Friday, October 23, 2020

Explainer: Why former ICICI Bank CEO’s husband was arrested

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday arrested businessman Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, for alleged money laundering in a deal between the private lender and Videocon Group. The money-laundering case was registered in January last year against the businessman, his wife, Chanda Kochhar, Videocon Group MD Venugopal Dhoot and others over allegations of irregularities in loans extended by ICICI Bank to Dhoot-led Videocon Group when Chanda was at the helm of the bank. The ED had registered the money laundering case against the Kochhars on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Kochhars came under probe agencies’ lens in October 2016 after whistleblower Arvind Gupta, an investor in both ICICI Bank and Videocon Group, raised concerns about alleged loan irregularities. He had raised concerned over the Rs 3,250 crore plus Rs 660 crore loans and alleged quid pro quo in the form of an identical 10 per cent foreign funding (Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore) in Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s company NuPower Renewables.

Here are 10 reasons why ex-ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar’s husband is behind bars:

  1. Deepak Kochhar was arrested by the Mumbai branch of the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after the latest round of questioning. He was arrested in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case.
  2. The Kochhars are being probed by several agencies including the income tax department, CBI, ED and SFIO, who are conducting parallel investigations in money laundering case.
  3. On January 22, 2019, the CBI had registered an FIR for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and his companies — Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited (VIL). It also named Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and Nupower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, in the FIR.
  4. On January 31, 2019, the ED registered a case of money laundering against Kochhars, Videocon CMD Venugopal Dhoot and others over alleged irregularities in sanctioning of loans worth Rs 1,875 crore by ICICI Bank to Videocon group.
  5. In March last year, raids were conducted by the ED during which it had seized a diary, hard disk and Rs 10.5 lakh at the office of Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd.
  6. It was alleged that Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables received kickbacks from Videocon’s in lieu of loans extended by ICICI Bank. Deepak Kochhar and Videocon promoters Dhoots had together set up a 50:50 JV NuPower Renewables in 2008. Around that time Chanda Kochhar was the CFO and Joint MD at ICICI Bank.
  7. It was alleged that Dhoot had invested in Deepak Kochhar’s company Nupower through his firm Supreme Energy a quid pro quo to loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the CEO of the bank on May 1, 2009.
  8. The ownership of Nupower and Supreme Energy changed hands through a complex web of shared transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot, the CBI had alleged.
  9. During its preliminary inquiry, the CBI had found that six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to the Videocon Group and companies associated with it between 2009 and 2011. These loans turned non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank.
  10. The ED has found that Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables and Venugopal Dhoot-promoted Videocon Group had appointed a dozen dummy directors who had nothing to do with the core operations.The ‘dummy’ directors were appointed to hide ownership, evade tax and launder money as per reports.
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