The Central Bureau of Investigation has started a preliminary enquiry to determine whether ICICI Bank violated any law by sanctioning a Rs 3,250-crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday.
“Venugopal Dhoot, promoter of Videocon Group, Deepak Kochhar and unknown others have been named as suspects in the PE [preliminary enquiry],” the newspaper quoted an unidentified CBI official as saying.
Deepak Kochhar is the husband of ICICI Bank Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar. The official said that Chanda Kochhar is not a suspect in the case.
A preliminary enquiry can be converted into a first information report when the agency has sufficient material to show that a cognisable offence has been committed.
Dhoot allegedly provided crores of rupees to NuPower Renewables – a company founded by Deepak Kochchar – six months after the Videocon Group got the loan from ICICI Bank. It was part of the Rs 40,000-crore loan that the conglomerate secured from a consortium of 20 banks led by the State Bank of India, The Times of India reported.
Meanwhile, one of the trustees of the Indian Investors Protection Council, Arvind Gupta, on Friday alleged that the evidence in the case showed that Chanda Kochhar had also benefited from the loan granted to Videocon. “Evidence shows strong links that Chanda Kochhar and her family are a huge beneficiary of this loan,” Gupta told ANI. “The government should order an investigation and audit to check why the loan was given to a sinking company.”
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has started looking into possible disclosure and corporate governance-related lapses, PTI reported. The market regulator has started a preliminary enquiry into various disclosures that top private sector banks made in the past few years. The stock exchanges may also ask for additional clarifications about dealings that took place in 2012, an unidentified official told PTI.
In a stock exchange filing on Wednesday, the bank’s board said it “reposes full faith” in Chanda Kochhar, and that “malicious and unfounded rumours” were being spread to “malign the bank”.