A Mumbai court on Thursday rejected the application of Videocon Group founder Venugopal Dhoot challenging his arrest in an alleged loan fraud case involving the ICICI Bank, reportd PTI.

Special judge SH Gwalani, who had reserved the order on Wednesday, said that he did not find any merit in Dhoot’s application.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested the 71-year-old in Mumbai on December 26, three days after it took former ICICI Bank Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar into custody in the same case.

In his petition, Dhoot had claimed that he was “mechanically arrested” in the case despite cooperating with the CBI, reported Bar and Bench.

During the hearings, advocate Sandeep Ladda, appearing for Dhoot, had told the court that the remand order of the Kochhars had recorded the submission made by their lawyers questioning why Dhoot had not been arrested. Ladda argued that the apprehension was that Dhoot may become an approver.

This created pressure on the agency, which then “had to mechanically arrest Dhoot”, he argued.

The advocate also argued that the agency had violated Supreme Court guidelines and that his arrest was illegal as he had cooperated with the CBI.

CBI lawyer A Limosin, however, told the court that Dhoot had not appeared despite summons.

Meanwhile, the CBI court also rejected the applications of Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar for home food, beds, mattresses and chairs, reported PTI. It, however, directed jail authorities to provide them food after consulting with the medical officer.

The fraud case

The CBI had booked Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot in a case filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2019. It alleged that the ICICI Bank extended credit facilities to companies of the Videocon Group in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India and the bank’s own credit policy.

The bank extended credit facilities amounting to Rs 3,250 crore, the agency alleged. In return, Dhoot allegedly invested Rs 64 crore in a company named Nupower Renewables through another firm named Supreme Energy Private Limited.

The CBI alleged that Dhoot later transferred Supreme Energy Private Limited to the Pinnacle Energy Trust, which was controlled by Deepak Kochhar, according to The Hindu. The agency said that ICICI Bank’s loans to Videocon became non-performing assets, resulting in wrongful gains to the borrowers and the accused persons.

A case of money laundering was also filed against the Kochhars and Dhoot in 2019 by the Enforcement Directorate. The agency alleged that the former ICICI Bank CEO acquired a flat in Mumbai at a nominal rate after taking over a Videocon Group entity through a trust.

Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021 as well. The former ICICI Bank CEO got bail in February 2021, while her husband got bail in March 2021.