The pose of injured innocence which the disgraced ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer, Chanda Kochhar, seeks to affect does not impress anyone. Not after the sordid facts in the public domain which speak of a clear conflict of interest in the bank’s dealings under her watch with the Videocon group and her husband’s web of companies. If she really felt wronged by the charges when they first surfaced in the media, she ought to have offered to step aside till an independent investigation proved her right. Instead, as more and more details of circuitous transactions between Videocon group and her husband’s companies became public, she sought to dig in her heels, refusing to go on leave till the blanket of suspicion and distrust was lifted.
The board chairman, M K Sharma, initially, seemed to be in a hurry to give her a clean chit without even making a preliminary inquiry. Now that an inquiry committee under the former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna has been set up to examine the ICCI Bank’s dealings with Videocon, she has had to step down. However, the payment of full salary and perks while she is on forced leave is highly questionable. She forfeited the right to be self-righteous the moment her husband borrowed heavily from one of the key borrowers of the ICCI Bank and subsequently the latter loan was categorised as a non-performing asset. She cannot be unaware of the seeming quid pro quo involved in these dealings. Hopefully, Justice Srikrishna will lay bare the truth. Meanwhile, the ICCI Bank must strive hard to regain confidence of the investing public. The Chanda Kochhar-Videocon scam has hit it hard.