A Central Bureau of Investigation officer leading inquiries in the ICICI-Videocon loan case was transferred on January 23, a day after signing the first information report, The Indian Express reported on Sunday.
Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, who was the superintendent of police of the agency’s Banking and Securities Fraud Cell, has been transferred to the Economic Offences Branch in Ranchi. Former ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Chief Executive Officer Venugopal Dhoot have been named in the FIR.
The CBI filed a case against the Kochhars, Dhoot, and others on January 24. Earlier that day, the agency had carried out searches at the headquarters of Videocon Group in Mumbai and its offices in Aurangabad, and offices of NuPower and Surpeme Power. The searches were conducted in connection with alleged irregularities in a Rs 3,250-crore loan that ICICI Bank sanctioned to Videocon Group in 2012. The agency has alleged that the accused sanctioned the loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with others in order to cheat the private lender.
The CBI is also looking into Mishra’s role, who allegedly delayed the investigation in the case, The Hindu reported. “There was a strong suspicion that he might leak information about the ensuing searches,” said an unidentified agency official. “Therefore, he was transferred out and an internal inquiry initiated against him. The role of other officials may also be examined.”
The official added that Superintendent of Police Mohit Gupta is now the investigating officer of the case. The searches were carried out under Gupta’s supervision.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on January 25 wrote a blog post advising investigating agencies to concentrate on the bull’s eye and not indulge in “investigative adventurism”. While the finance minister mentioned the ICICI-Videocon case, he did not identify any investigating agency.
Unidentified government officials told The Indian Express that Jaitley’s comments were just “elderly advice,” and should not be construed as attempts at meddling in the agency. “Jaitley has made a valid argument,” a government official said. “You cannot cast the net too wide on the basis of presumptions without any evidence. How can you name top board members without any evidence?”
Congress leader Salman Khurshid questioned Jaitley’s comments on Saturday. “FM Jaitley is perturbed about CBI’s adventurism but is that not their standard procedure?” he tweeted on Saturday. “For too long mistakes are treated as corruption; indiscretion is treated as malice. Being a country of criminals by government directive is horrible.”