CBI registers FIR against Chanda & Deepak Kochhar, Venugopal Dhoot

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday (January 24) booked former ICICI MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon MD Venugopal Dhoot in the ICICI-Videocon cheating case, which led to a loss of Rs 1,730 crore.

Besides registering the First Information Report (FIR) in the ICICI-Videocon loan fraud case, the investigative agency also carried out raids at several locations including the Mumbai offices of Videocon and NuPower Renewables, the company run by Deepak Kochhar.

Many other top bankers in ICICI Bank have also been named in the FIR, giving the case a completely new perspective. 

In 2012, a consortium of 20 banks and financial institutions had loaned Rs 40,000 crore to Videocon Group and 12 of its subsidiaries.

ICICI Bank was one of the financial institutions which granted a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon.

Just six months after the loan was approved, Kochhar’s husband gets controlling stake in a company which Videocon MD Venugopal Dhoot set up with him, Chanda Kochhar and two of her relatives in December 2008, reported The Indian Express.

After setting up the company, Dhoot had given a loan of Rs 64 crore to NuPower Renewables and subsequently transferred its ownership to Pinnacle Public Trust head by Deepak Kochhar for just Rs 9 lakh.

The nexus between the loan awarded and transfer of NuPower Renewables led to allegations of quid pro quo against Chanda Kochhar. Almost 86 per cent of the loan Rs 2,7810 crore out of Rs 3,750 crore — remained unpaid, following which Videocon was declared a non-performing asset (NPA).

Initially, Kochhar was backed strongly by ICICI Bank but support weakened as allegations against her kept growing. Multiple agencies have probed Kochhar and her family members since then.

It also led to an independent probe by retired judge BN Srikrishna, following which Kochhar was sent on indefinite leave. Kochhar finally resigned on October 4 last year.

In its FIR, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said the then CEO and MD of ICICI Bank got illegal gratification through her husband Deepak Kochhar from the Videocon Group for sanctioning a loan of Rs 3,250 crore.

Kochhar stepped down as CEO and MD of ICICI Bank on October 4, 2018, in connection to the corruption allegations in the ICICI-Videocon case.

The CBI will also investigate other top ICICI bankers including current CEO Sandeep Bakshi, K Ramkumar, Sonjoy Chatterjee, NS Kannan, Zarin Daruwala, Rajiv Sabharwal, K V kamath and Homi Khusrokhan in connection to the case. They were part of various committees in the bank.

The FIR in the case was filed finally on January 22, 2019, on the basis of a complaint filed by CBI inspector DJ Bajpai following a year-long inquiry in the case. It has been alleged that Kochhar had facilitated the loan to Venugopal Dhoot.

A preliminary inquiry revealed that Kochhar and former directors of ICICI Bank including the current CEO sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs 1,575 crore.

The FIR has been registered under Sections 120-B r/w 420 of the Indian Penal Code with Section 7, Section 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

In its FIR, CBI mentioned that that loans awarded to Videocon have turned into non-performing assets and are causing wrongful loss to ICICI bank. The FIR also revealed that credit limits of Videocon Group were sanctioned after Kochhar succeeded KV Kamath to become the MD and CEO of ICICI Bank.

The preliminary inquiry has also revealed that from June 2009 to October 2011, ICICI Bank sanctioned six high-value loans to various Videocon Group subsidiaries.

Besides, the rupee-term loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics (VIEL) was also against the rules and policy of the bank. It was sanctioned by a committee which included Chanda Kochhar.

A total of four companies have been named in the FIR in relation to the cheating/corruption case NuPower Renewables, Videocon International Electronics, and Videocon Industries and Supreme Energy.

Whistleblower Arvind Gupta first made public allegations against Chanda Kochhar last year. He said all Kochhar and her family had benefitted for sanctioning loans to Videocon Group.

However, Gupta feels that this is just the tip of the iceberg and urged the investigative agency to look into cases of foreign funding in Indian companies.

As a shareholder, I felt there are things that ppl must know, so I informed everybody. I would like govt to look into foreign fundings in Indian companies, Chanda Kochhar’s case is a tip of the iceberg, he told news agency ANI.

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