The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of Videocon group to verify the Rs40,000 crore loan to the company, said a senior CBI official, requesting anonymity.
“The PE was registered about a month back. So far the agency has collected documents pertaining to the Rs40,000 crore loan granted to Videocon group in 2012 and documents pertaining to setting of NuPower . The PE also names bank officials of public sector banks,” said the official.
CBI is examining the documents collected to verify whether the PE should be converted into an FIR or not, he added. CBI takes about a month to decide whether a PE has enough merit for further investigation.
An Indian Express report published 29 March had alleged conflict of interest in a Rs3,250 crore loan grant to Videocon group by ICICI Bank. The amount was granted as part of Rs40,000 crore loan by a consortium of 20 banks in 2012. Dhoot allegedly gave Rs64 crore in 2010 through a fully owned entity to NuPower Renewables Pvt. Ltd he had set up with Deepak Kochhar and two of his relatives. It is alleged that he transferred proprietorship of the company to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for Rs9 lakh six months after he received the loan from ICICI Bank.
To be sure, the PE does not name Chanda Kochhar even as questions have been raised on the financial dealings, as she was a part of the credit committee that granted the loan to Videocon group.
ICICI bank board chairman M.K. Sharma, in a televised statement on 29 March, defended Chanda Kochhar saying that she did not need to recuse herself from the credit committee that sanctioned loans to the Videocon group as it was not an investor in NuPower Renewables.
“The board does not see a conflict of interest in any manner since Videocon group is not an investor in NuPower Renewables,” said Sharma. “Hence, there was no need to recuse herself from this committee. As mentioned earlier, this committee had many independent directors and the committee was not chaired by her. Moreover, it was part of a consortium arrangement where the terms and conditions had already been agreed upon by the consortium.”
Queries sent to email address on NuPower’s website was not answered.
Dhoot did not reply to a text message regarding the same, but he had earlier told Mint via a text message that “When ICICI Bank sanctioned loan, Videocon group did not possess any shares of NuPower”.