Monday, October 26, 2020

India: ED suspects former ICICI Bank CEO, Kochhar got kickbacks for giving loans to Sterling Biotech, Bhushan Steel


The Enforcement Directorate has reportedly widened the scope of its probe against former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar. A report by India Today said that the agency is looking into loans extended by ICICI Bank to Sandesara brothers-led Sterling Biotech and the embattled Bhushan Steels, which was recently acquired by Tata group.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) suspects that the firm of Chanda Kochhar’s husband, Deepak Kochhar, was benefitted in lieu of granting loan to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees to Sterling Biotech. Nitin Sandesara and Chetan Sandesara owned the Vadodra-based company and are wanted in an Rs 8,100-crore bank loan fraud.

The Sandesara brothers are presently on the run from Indian authorities and are suspected to be hiding in Albania. Hitesh Patel, one of the accused in the Sterling Biotech bank fraud case and a close aide to the Sandesaras, was nabbed last month in Albania.

Chanda Kochhar was also benefitted by granting loans to Bhushan Steels, the India Today report said. The ED suspects that the company offered to invest in Deepak Kochhar’s firm in exchange of loans from ICICI Bank, the report said. Bhushan Steels is already under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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A citizen of Singapore has also revealed more than a dozen dubious loans which were granted by ICICI Bank during the tenure of Chanda Kochhar in exchange of investment in her husband’s firm, the report said. Primary investigation by the probe agency has found that details provided by the Singaporean citizen are legitimate, India Today reported while quoting sources.

The ED has summoned former Managing Director (MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar on May 3 in connection with the Videocon money laundering case. The probe agency has asked Kochhar to make a personal appearance before it in Delhi with a detailed list of movable and immovable assets owned by her.

Her husband Deepak Kochhar has also been summoned along with her brother-in-law Rajeev Kochhar on April 30. ED’s investigating officer in the case will record their statements under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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