New Delhi: The BJP government is clearly jittery. After Nirav Modi scooted with the nation’s loot, the government has jumped the gun by asking the CBI to put out look out circulars at all airports for CEO of ICICI bank, Chanda Kochhar, her husband and businessman Deepak Kochhar, and promoter of the Videocon group of companies, Venugopal Dhoot.
The CBI had last week filed a preliminary enquiry against Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot, but Chanda does not figure in the complaint. Yet, the top banker finds herself on the CBI radar. A look out circular prevents a person from leaving an airport without informing the authorities. The specific allegation is that each time the ICICI bank gave a loan to the sinking Videocon group (Rs 3,250 crore and Rs 660 crore), a huge sum of Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore was invested into NuPower Renewable, a company promoted by Deepak Kochhar, Chanda’s husband.
Rajiv Kochhar, the reportedly ‘estranged’ brother of Deepak and promoter of Avista Advisory Services, was detained on Thursday at Mumbai airport when he was leaving for Singapore for a business trip. Rajiv’s Singapore-based company had dealings with a number of companies which had borrowed from ICICI Bank before they went bankrupt. The government is extremely worried since Vijay Mallya fled. To aggravate matters, Nirav Modi is refusing to return and has rebuffed the CBI, the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate. That had elicited from the Opposition the taunt about allowing ‘chhota Modi’ being allowed to escape.
According to India Today portal, which broke the story about the lookout notices, the Prime Minister’s Office is closely monitoring investigations into banking frauds and non-performing assets. The $2 billion PNB scam involving Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Jewels happened mostly under the NDA’s watch and was followed by the ICICI bank Videocon deal, the portal adds.
TOP BANKERS’ BONUS ON HOLD
The year-end bonuses of the heads of top private banks are under the scanner with questions being raised about their performance and the size of the pay-outs, reports Bloomberg, which delivers market and business news. Chief executive officers at HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd. and Axis Bank Ltd. —the nation’s largest private lenders by assets — are among the bankers yet to receive bonuses for the financial year ended 31 March 2017. It is understood that the banking regulator — the Reserve Bank of India — hasn’t signed off on the proposed payments. According to Bloomberg, ICICI’s board had approved a bonus of Rs2.2 crore ($340,000) for CEO Chanda Kochhar while Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma was set to receive Rs1.35 crore and HDFC Bank’s Aditya Puri about Rs2.9 crore, exchange filings show. According to the agency, a spokesman for Axis Bank declined to comment while spokesmen for HDFC Bank and ICICI didn’t reply to emails and phone calls. Going by its track record, the RBI should have approved the bonuses well before 31 March 2018,
CBI QUESTIONS EX-RBI DY GOV
The CBI on Friday questioned former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India — Harun Rashid Khan — in connection with the PNB letter of undertaking scam and relaxation of gold import rules in 2014 by the erstwhile UPA government, a move that had allegedly benefited the likes of Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi. Khan is the senior-most former official of the RBI to be questioned by the CBI in connection with the USD 2 billion PNB scam, considered the biggest in the financial history of the country. The ’20:80′ gold import scheme was cleared by then finance minister P Chidambaram on May 13, 2014, barely three days before the counting of votes of the general election. The scheme had allegedly helped Choksi’s company and a few other make windfall gains. Khan was promoted from within the ranks as a deputy governor on July 1, 2011, and reappointed in July 4, 2014 for two more years. He was in charge of the financial markets, internal debt management and foreign exchange management at the central bank.