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Loan glare on finance top guns

CBI books Chanda Kochhar, seeks probe into host of honchos

By Our Special Correspondent and PTI in New Delhi

  • Published 25.01.19, 3:56 AM
  • Updated 25.01.19, 3:56 AM
Chanda Kochhar at a press conference in Mumbai on September 08, 2017.
Chanda Kochhar at a press conference in Mumbai on September 08, 2017. (PTI)

Chanda Kochhar, one of the most high-profile bankers in the country, has been booked by the CBI in a loan sanction case that is threatening to spread to the corner rooms of some of the marquee names in high finance.

Besides Chanda, who was the MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group managing director V.N. Dhoot have been booked.

The CBI was looking into a whistleblower’s accusation that Kochhar’s husband benefited from a quid pro quo arrangement linked to loans of Rs 1,875 crore that ICICI Bank had extended to the Videocon group in 2012. The accusation was that the bank had sanctioned the loans because of the business dealings between the Dhoots and Chanda’s husband Deepak.

Chanda was on ICICI Bank’s credit committee that approved the loans to Videocon. It was alleged that Dhoot had paid Rs 64 crore to Chanda’s husband in the form of investments in Deepak’s company NuPower Renewables in return for the loans cleared by the committee.

In the FIR, the CBI has recommended an investigation into the roles of the present CEO of ICICI Bank Sandeep Bakshi; former ICICI Bank chief and current New Development Bank chairman K.V. Kamath; Goldman Sachs chairman Sonjoy Chatterjee; Standard Chartered Bank CEO Zarin Daruwala; Tata Capital MD and CEO Rajiv Sabharwal; and Tata Capital senior adviser Homi Khusrokhan.

They were part of the committees which cleared the loans, the FIR said, adding that the “role of these senior officers of the sanctioning committee may also be investigated”.

No comment could be obtained by this newspaper from ICICI Bank and the others.

CBI investigators carried out searches on Thursday at multiple locations, including the offices of the Videocon group in Mumbai and Aurangabad, and NuPower Renewables.

“It has been alleged that the accused sanctioned certain loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with others to cheat ICICI Bank,” CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur said.

The agency has also named companies such as NuPower Renewables, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics and Videocon Industries and unknown public servants as accused in the FIR registered under penal code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the spokesperson said.

The FIR was registered 10 months after the CBI registered a preliminary enquiry against Dhoot, Deepak and unidentified others.

In October last year, Chanda had quit the bank, six months before her current tenure was to end.

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