New Delhi: Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot has termed reports of loaning Rs 64 crore to Nupower Renewables through one of his companies, or subsequent transactions which resulted in Deepak Kochhar gaining full ownership of the company, as baseless.
Dhoot has denied any dealings with Deepak Kochhar, the husband of ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, beyond investing Rs 2.5 lakh in Deepak’s renewable energy business.
Earlier this week, some media reports mentioned about the alleged involvement of Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon group on quid pro quo basis. Concerns were also raised about transactions of Videocon group and Nupower Renewables, a company operated by her husband Deepak Kochhar.
“Our transaction is very clear and I have not done anything wrong, and will not do anything wrong…We have not invested any money in any company floated by Deepak Kochhar.
“We invested Rs 2.5 lakh, pulled it out and now there is no relation between us,” Dhoot said.
The Videocon Group chairman said Deepak sought investment in his venture, Nupower Renewables, over a decade ago. Dhoot further said he agreed as Deepak was seeking only Rs 2.5 lakh and was an “old acquaintance”.
The ICICI Bank was headed by KV Kamath at that time, Dhoot said, claiming that he did not know if Chanda Kochhar was associated with the bank then.
Asked about the alleged Rs 64 crore loan given to Nupower by Supreme Energy which is 99.99% owned by him’, Dhoot initially claimed Videocon does not have any such entity, but then conceded that the Group may have invested “a lakh or two” in some company, but claimed he does not exactly remember.
According to media reports, Supreme Energy loaned the money to Nupower in March 2010 through fully convertible debentures, a year after Dhoot divested his stake in Nupower.
Supreme Energy became 94.99% owner of Nupower after this, with Deepak Kochhar retaining the remaining stake. The same year in November, Dhoot is alleged to have transferred his entire stake in Supreme to his business associate Mahesh Punglia.
Dhoot rejected any association with Supreme Energy and added that a search of Registrar of Companies’ records can reveal a 1,000 companies of the same name.
Dhoot said the company has serviced its debt obligations for over 32 years till it slipped into an NPA and assured to work towards making the loans performing again.
According to reports, CBI has started a preliminary enquiry (PE) against ICICI Bank’s CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot. This is in connection with Videocon Group getting Rs 3.250 crore as loan from ICICI in 2012.
Overall, Videocon raised Rs 40,000 crore as loan from a consortium of banks. Unknown other bank officials are also mentioned in the PE which was filed a few weeks back. PE can be changed into a full-fledged investigation by CBI when sufficient leads are available.
CBI will look to ascertain whether Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar were involved in financial dealings six months after Videocon was given Rs 3,250 crore loan. Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar along with other bank officials are likely to be questioned by CBI as part of their probe.
No decision has been taken regarding calling Chanda Kochhar so far for the probe, according to reports. A decision will be taken after examining all the documents.
The CBI has questioned a few ICICI bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing the Rs 3,250-crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012.
Earlier this week, the ICICI Bank board came out in support of Chanda Kochhar, saying it has full faith and confidence in her and there is no question of any quid pro quo/ nepotism/ conflict of interest as is being alleged in various rumours.