Tuesday 27 October 2020

Deepak Kochhar, husband of ex-CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda, arrested

Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 7 September arrested Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar in connection with ICICI Bank-Videocon case, ED officials said.

So far in the questioning Kochhars had maintained that Videocon’s investment or fund infusion in NuPower was a pure business transaction, however recent evidence pointed to trail of funds connecting Videocon and NuPower, said an ED official.

“Deepak Kochhar was arrested after being confronted with this new evidence that there is indeed a case for illegal gratification here. He will be produced in the special prevention of money laundering court tomorrow for custody,” the ED official said.

Last month, a company allegedly belonging to Deepak Kochhar approached the Delhi High Court seeking the release of assets seized by the Enforcement Directorate in March last year in a money laundering case.

The company, Pacific Capital Service Pvt Ltd, sought release of the assets on the ground that the seizure can continue only for a period of one year and even after lapse of the period, no complaint (charge sheet) has been filed by the ED in the case.

The ED counsel raised a preliminary objection to the petition on the ground of jurisdiction and submitted that a similar petition challenging the seizure of assets in another case is already pending in the Bombay High Court.

On 22 January 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.

It named also Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, in the FIR.

Thereafter, on 31 January, the ED lodged a case of money laundering against Chanda and Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and others to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning of Rs 1,875-crore loans by ICICI Bank to the corporate group.

In March last year, raids were conducted by ED during which it had seized a diary, hard disk and ₹10.5 lakh at the office of Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd.

During her questioning by the ED last year, Chanda Kochhar had denied wrongdoing. She said loan approval was a collective decision and not that of an individual. Deepak Kochhar has also previously denied all allegations.

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 1 May 2009.

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.

During its preliminary enquiry, the CBI had found that six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to the Videocon Group and companies associated with it between June 2009 and October 2011 in alleged violation of laid-down policies of ICICI Bank, which have now become part of the probe.

The loans were declared non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank, it had alleged.

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