March 7, 2019
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has confirmed that Chanda Kochhar, former chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of ICICI Bank, and her family received kickbacks worth Rs 500 crore in lieu of various loans offered by the private lender to Videocon. The agency will soon seize assets purchased by the former ICICI boss with the proceeds of the alleged kickbacks. The ED had questioned Chanda, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot in the Rs 3,250-crore loan case for three days last week. The agency, after establishing a money trail, is right now compiling a list of loans offered by the bank during Chanda Kochhar’s tenure, which were reportedly routed to her husband’s company, NuPower Renewables.
The CBI, which registered an FIR against Chanda in January, has also sought more documents from ICICI Bank relating to Rs 1,875 crore loans given to Videocon Group during her tenure. The CBI has, however, not issued any notice to any of the accused named in the FIR. The ED is also planning to summon other top officials who were part of the credit committee that sanctioned loans to the Dhoot-led company. The agency earlier said it had evidence against Chanda, and was also looking at Kochhar’s role in two cases involving her husband Deepak Kochhar.
As per the ED, Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables received Rs 64 crore in 2010 via a maze of shell companies from Venugopal Dhoot, who in turn got loans worth over Rs 1,575 crore from ICICI Bank between 2009 and 2011. In 2010 alone, NuPower received Rs 325 crore from Firstland Holdings, a Mauritius-based firm owned by Nishant Kanodia, who is also the son-in-law of Ravi Ruia, the co-founder and Chairman of Essar Group. ICICI Bank under Chanda Kochhar’s leadership had also given loans worth $530 million to Essar Steel Minnesota LLC in 2010, which, like Dhoot-led Videocon, turned into a non-performing asset (NPA).
On Friday last week, the ED carried out raids at the houses and offices of Chanda Kochhar. A team of sleuths, assisted by the police, carried out searches at their five offices and residential premises in Mumbai and other locations. Apart from Chanda, Deepak, and Dhoot, the ED also grilled Mahesh Pugali, a close associate of Dhoot and relative of Kochhars. The ED probe pertains to an FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January naming Chanda Kochhar as accused in the Rs 3,250 crore ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case.