ICICI Bank on Monday said it has appointed Sandeep Bakhshi chief operating officer and whole time director in place of Chanda Kochhar, will be on leave till an independent investigation into allegations of conflict of interest against her is complete, the lender said in a BSE filing.
Bakhshi is currently managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. He has been appointed for a term of five years and will take charge on June 19, or the day the Securities and Exchange Board of India approves his appointment, whichever is later.
The board’s decision 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.
On June 1, the bank had denied asking Kochhar to go on leave till it conducts an independent investigation into the allegations. “She is on her annual leave which was planned in advance,” the bank had said. “Further, the Board denies that it has appointed any search committee to find her successor.”
Earlier on Monday, the shares of ICICI Bank jumped by more than 4% on the National Stock Exchange after a report said that the private lender’s board of directors is considering replacing Kochhar with an interim chief.