CBI registers FIR in ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case

Alleged anomalies in dealings between bank, Videocon and NuPower Renewables, a company promoted by former ICICI MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak, in 2010.

Updated - January 24, 2019 09:53 pm IST

Published - January 24, 2019 12:06 pm IST

 Chanda Kochhar, former MD & CEO, ICICI Bank. File

Chanda Kochhar, former MD & CEO, ICICI Bank. File

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked Chanda Kochhar, the then managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, along with her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group head Venugopal Dhoot and others for sanction of credit facilities to the tune of ₹1,730 crore allegedly in violation of rules. As an alleged quid pro quo, Deepak Kochhar’s company received ₹64 crore.

The CBI's FIR, registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, was based on a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) initiated by the agency in December 2017, which traces the sanctioning of the loans amounting to about ₹3,250 crore to various companies of the Videocon Group promoted by Mr. Dhoot in violation of the Reserve Bank of India guidelines and the bank’s credit policy.and the alleged illegal gratification paid by Videocon group to companies owned by Mr Kochchar.

According to CBI officers, six high value loans were sanctioned to various companies under the Videocon group from June 2009 to October 2011.

“In August 2009, a Term Loan of ₹300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronic Ltd in contravention of the rules and policy by the sanctioning committee. Ms. Kochchar was part of this committee. Inquiries have revealed that the loan was disbursed on September 7, 2009 and on the very next day, Mr. Dhoot transferred ₹64 crore to M/s New Power Renewables (NRL) Ltd, managed by Mr. Kochchar. This was the first major capital received by NRL to acquire its first power plant,” a CBI officer said.

The officer added that five other loans, collectively amounting to ₹1,575 crore were sanctioned to various companies of the Videocon group, including loans granted for refinancing the existing loans of the company, in violation of the credit policy of the bank.

Among those named in the FIR are Mr. Kochhar’s company NRL, Videocon International Electronics Limited (VIEL), Videocon Industries Limited (VIL) and SEPL.

The role of K.V. Kamath, currently the bank’s non-executive chairman, Sandeep Bakshi, who replaced Ms. Kochhar, K. Ramkumar, Sonjoy Chatterjee, N.S. Kannan, Zarin Daruwala, Rajiv Sabharwal and Homi Khusrokhan may also be investigated, the agency said. These officials were members in several committees that sanctioned ₹1,575 crore in loans on various dates.

The CBI conducted searches at four locations in Mumbai and Aurangabad, including the offices of Videocon Group, Nupower Renewables Limited (NRL) and Supreme Energy Private Limited (SEPL).

According to the FIR, NRL was incorporated in December 2008 and Mr. Kochhar, Mr. Dhoot and one Saurabh Dhoot were its directors. The Dhoots resigned in January 2009. However, before doing so, the Videocon Group chief allotted over 19.9 lakh warrants valued at ₹10 per unit, to Mr. Kochhar on an initial payment of ₹1 per warrant.

Shares transferred

In June 2009, the NRL shares held by Mr. Dhoot and the Deepak Kochhar group were transferred to SEPL, which finally became 95% shareholder of NRL.

The agency said SEPL was set up in July 2008 by Mr. Dhoot and his associate Vasant Kakade. Mr. Dhoot resigned as a director in January 2009 and transferred the company’s control to Mr. Kochhar by offloading his shares in favour of Pinnacle Energy Trust.

The bank also sanctioned loans to Videocon Group companies, the agency said. While ₹750 crore was given to VIL, ₹300 crore went to Applicomp India, ₹240 crore to Sky Appliances, ₹175 crore to Millennium Appliances and ₹110 crore was sanctioned to Techno Electronics. Loans to Sky Appliances and Applicomp India were for repayment of the unsecured loan taken from Videocon Industries. A loan was also sanctioned to Videocon Industries for refinancing its existing loans.

The bank released the security available in the form of fixed-deposit for ₹50 crore in the accounts of Sky Appliances and Techno Electronics “without any justification”.

The credit limits in question were sanctioned after Ms. Kochhar took charge of ICICI Bank as MD & CEO in May 2009. She was a committee member that sanctioned a loan of ₹750 crore to VIL and ₹300 crore to VIEL, the CBI alleged.

Declared NPAs

As on April 26, 2012, the outstanding against six loan accounts were adjusted as another term loan of ₹1,730 crore sanctioned under refinance of domestic debt. The account of VIL and its group companies were declared non-performing assets in June 2017.

Meanwhile, shares of Videocon Industries fell 2.29% at Rs 2.86 in a firm Mumbai market on Thursday, valuing the company at Rs 95.66 crore. The exchange has sought clarification from the company about the CBI registering an FIR and the reply is awaited.

(With inputs from Gautam Mengle)

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