New Delhi: Whistle-blower Arvind Gupta, who exposed the alleged Videocon loan fraud, has levelled fresh allegations of quid pro quo on ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar in a second letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gupta has claimed that ICICI Bank had favoured Ruia brothers of Essar group for ’round-tripping’ investments into Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables – a firm which is at the centre of current Videocon loan probe.
“ICICI has been instrumental in funding Essar Group’s global ventures particularly taking over of Essar Oil in United Kingdom, Essar Steel Minnesota (USA) and Algoma Steel (Canada). In course of time, these funds also became a non-performing asset (NPA) and they had to face a lot of litigations. A part of these funds did come back, but to my assessment, a substantial amount of fund still remains NPA,” Gupta told ANI.
“These financers in India didn’t insist to ensure that the bankers get the full money that they owe to the banks. Nor did the ICICI bank initiated any action and asked them to first pay off our money and then get away. All these transactions do need to be investigated. It needs to be seen how these funds were transferred,” he added.
Adding to this he said that there is something unusual and fishy in this whole case as to how investments go into a company which is running into losses.
“ICICI bank looks like a one-person show. Out of the nine committees they have, Chanda Kochhar is present on six of them. Their work culture needs to be examined,” he added.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Gupta alleged that the Ruia brothers funded the NuPower and its subsidiary through their son-in-law Nishant Kanodia and nephew Anirudh Bhuwalka during December 2010 to March 2012 by subscribing to compulsorily convertible preference shares and equity shares.
His letter states that Nishant Kanodia invested in NuPower via Firstland Holdings – the holding company of Matix Group (co-promoted by Kanodia). In March 2016, Gupta had written a letter to the Prime Minister alleging wrong dealings between the bank, through Chanda Kochhar, and the Videocon Group to benefit her family.
“Chanda Kochhar is a public servant under the definition of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Her husband, who is the owner of NuPower Renewables, is the direct or indirect beneficiary of the position that she enjoyed. The facts and figures in the records available in the public domain establish beyond doubt that her family is the beneficiary of unexplained funding financed by various corporate houses,” Gupta said.
For those unversed, media reports earlier in March highlighted an alleged involvement of Chanda Kochhar and her family members in an Rs. 3,250 crore loan provided to the Videocon group on quid pro quo basis in 2012. Soon after, Gupta said the evidence in the case pointed out that Chanda Kochhar was herself a beneficiary of the loan, and her husband is an indirect beneficiary of the loan granted to Videocon.
The IT department in the first week of April had sent a notice to NuPower Renewables. Thereafter, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) called in a number of officials for questioning in the aforementioned case, including Umanath Venkat Naik, the director of NuPower Renewables, the former director of NuPower Renewables, Mahesh Pugalia, and Rajeev Kochhar, the brother-in-law of Chanda Kochhar.