Thursday, April 22, 2021

ICICI Bank former CEO’s husband arrested on money laundering charges

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Businessman Deepak Kochhar and husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged money laundering in a deal between the bank and Videocon Group. He had been questioned since noon today before he was arrested at night.

The probe agency had filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) early last year against Ms Kochhar, her husband and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group to investigate alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning ₹ 1,875 crore in loans by ICICI Bank.

Mr Deepak has not been cooperating, after which he had to be placed under arrest, sources in the Enforcement Directorate said. He will be taken to an anti-money laundering court in Delhi tomorrow.

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The Enforcement Directorate is also probing at least two other instances of loans given by ICICI Bank during Ms Kochhar’s tenure to Gujarat-based pharmaceutical firm Sterling Biotech and to Bhushan Steel Group; both these are also being probed on alleged money laundering charges.

The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a complaint registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is running an independent investigation; it too had named all three individuals and added three companies, including two under the Videocon name, owned by Mr Dhoot’s companies.

NuPower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, had also been named.

The CBI has alleged that Mr Dhoot invested in NuPower through another company – Supreme Energy – in a quid pro quo deal via loans cleared by ICICI after Ms Kochhar took over as CEO in May 2009.

In preliminary investigations the CBI found six loans worth ₹ 1,875 crore were sanctioned between June 2009 and October 2011, in alleged violation of established policies. These loans were declared non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of ₹ 1,730 crore to the bank, the CBI further alleged.

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In January this year, ICICI Bank filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking recovery of bonuses given to Ms Kochhar. Ms Kochhar had challenged the “termination” of her employment by the country’s second-largest private bank last year, which had blocked her remuneration over allegations of granting “out-of-turn” loans.

 

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