ICICI Bank on Friday denied asking Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till it conducts an independent investigation into allegations of conflict of interest in her dealings with certain borrowers. “She is on her annual leave which was planned in advance,” said the bank. “Further, the Board denies that it has appointed any search committee to find her successor.”
On Thursday, there were media reports that Kochhar was asked to go on indefinite leave. The reports had said that most of the seven independent directors on the bank’s board want Kochhar to go on leave, according to The Times of India.
The decision of the bank’s board of directors to carry out an independent investigation came days after the Securities and Exchange Board of India issued a notice to Kochhar about the bank’s dealings with Videocon Group and NuPower Renewables, a company founded by her husband Deepak Kochhar.
Questions have been raised over a Rs 3,250-crore loan the bank sanctioned to the Videocon Group in 2012. Videocon Group CEO Venugopal Dhoot allegedly provided crores of rupees to NuPower Renewables six months after his company received the loan. The loan was part of the Rs 40,000-crore loan that Videocon secured from a consortium of 20 banks.
In March, the Central Bureau of Investigation initiated a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the bank had violated any law in sanctioning the loan.
The board had then backed Kochhar, claiming that “malicious and unfounded rumours” were being spread to “malign the bank”. However, it announced the inquiry on May 30 after an anonymous whistleblower levelled allegations against Kochhar. An “independent and credible person” would conduct the inquiry, the board added in its regulatory filings.