ICICI-Videocon loan fraud: Court rejects Deepak Kochhar’s bail plea

After a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court last month rejected the bail plea of ICICI-Videocon loan fraud case accused Deepak Kochhar that he had sought on the grounds that the chargesheet had not been filed in time, on Tuesday it rejected his plea on merits of the case.

Kochhar, who was arrested in early September, in a 101-page bail application filed through his advocates Vijay Agarwal and Rahul Agarwal sought bail stating that his fundamental rights are in jeopardy.

Kochhar’s advocates had argued that on 6 November, the Adjudicating Authority under the PMLA had dismissed the ED’s plea to confirm the attachment of Kochhar’s assets which it claimed to be 'proceeds of crime'. The agency had provisionally attached them in January. His advocates argued that Kochhar had been exonerated by the authority and that the ED's case does not sustain. The plea also said that while there are 11 accused (some of them are companies), only Kochhar was arrested. It also cited his long bout of Covid as a medical condition due to which he deserves bail.

Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves had appeared for the ED. The ED in its 92-page reply opposing the plea had called the order of the PMLA Adjudicating Authority as “perverse” and said that it will be challenging the same. Adjudicating proceedings before authority has no bearing on the proceedings before the special court, it stated, adding that the former has a limited scope of only adjudication of provisionally attached property and cannot exonerate the accused from the offence of money laundering.

Kochhar was arrested on September 7. As per the agency’s case, a day after ICICI Bank sanctioned Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Limited (VIEL), Rs 64 crore was sent by Videocon Chairman and MD Venugopal Dhoot through a company to another Nupower Renewables Private Limited managed and controlled by Kochhar. Kochhar’s wife Chanda was a chairperson of the committee, which had sanctioned the loan. An amount of Rs 1,575 crore that was sanctioned by the bank to Videocon Group companies had turned non-performing assets. Chanda was involved in the decision-making process in sanctioning these loans, the agency has alleged.

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