Mumbai: A special court on Saturday remanded ICICI’s former chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody till December 26 in an alleged ICICI-Videocon quid pro quo loan case.
The Kochhars were arrested by the CBI on Friday evening in Delhi and were brought to Mumbai on Saturday, where they were produced before the special CBI court.
3 days remand sought
CBI prosecutors A Lemozine and PKB Gaikwad sought remand custody of the Kochhars for three days and pointed out that they were arrested in a case registered by the central agency in 2019 in connection with six loans advanced by ICICI Bank to Videocon when Ms Kochhar was its CEO and MD. The transactions purportedly resulted in a loss of Rs1,875 crore to the bank.
The CBI needs to unearth the “entire gamut of conspiracies, which led to sanction of rupee term loan of Rs1,875 crore to financially beleaguered Videocon Group companies between June 2009 and April 2012”, it said while seeking their custody.
A conspiracy was hatched “for creation of a complex financial structure to conceal the identity of quid pro quo” of Rs64 crore received by Ms Kochhar in her husband’s bank account, the central agency claimed. It also said that it needs to probe the transfer of a flat of the Videocon Group situated at 45, CCI Chambers in Mumbai, to the family trust of Deepak Kochhar for a mere Rs11 lakh in 2016. The flat was purportedly valued at Rs5.25 crore in February 1996.
Why was the custody sought?
Custody was sought “to ascertain the names and roles of other co-conspirators / officials of ICICI Bank Ltd in sanction / disbursement of rupee term loans to Videocon Group companies”, according to the plea by the CBI.
The CBI application stated that ICICI Bank, in June 2009 and October 2011, sanctioned a rupee term loan of Rs1,875 crore to six companies of the Videocon Group toenable them to repay the unsecured loan availed by these companies from Videocon Industries Limited (VIL).
These loans were sanctioned after Ms Kochhar became the MD and CEO and, while she was on the loan committee, two of these loans, one of Rs300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and another of Rs750 crore to VIL, were cleared. The bank had also released the security available in the form of FDR of Rs50 crore in the accounts of Sky Appliance Ltd and Techno Electronic Ltd without any justification, the CBI said.
The central agency alleged that after Rs300 crore loan was granted to VIEL, Mr Kochhar received a kickback of Rs64 crore.
The CBI cited violation of provisions of banking transactions and guidelines laid down by the Reserved Bank of India and filed a plea to add the charge of Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by banker) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which provides maximum punishment of up to life imprisonment.
The CBI has alleged that Ms Kochhar has “not cooperated” in the investigation and has given “vague replies”. Mr Kochhar also “did not come up with true and full facts of the case”, said the CBI.
Mr Amit Desai, the counsel for the Kochhars, termed their remand illegal and said that the central agency had been conducting the probe since 2018. He further contended that there has been no allegation that the couple hampered the probe. They have given their detailed statements with supporting documents to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), he said.
Mr Desai highlighted a letter by ICICI Bank to the CBI in July 202I, stating that the bank had not suffered any wrongful loss because of any of these transactions. This shows there are “errors of facts in the CBI FIR”, he contended.
Mr Desai produced the order passed by the adjudicating authority in connection with the proceedings for attachment of Mr Kochhar’s flat at CCI Chambers. It stated that the transaction of Rs64 crore was independent of the loan given to Videocon by the bank.
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