ICICI Bank has authorized the prosecution of its former CEO, Chanda Kochhar, in a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), according to the counsel representing the probe agency in court on Wednesday.
Kochhar, who is alleged to have engaged in irregularities related to loan approvals for the Videocon Group during her tenure as the bank’s CEO, has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, as well as with cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.
The investigation and prosecution of the accused require the approval of a competent authority, in this case, ICICI Bank, as mandated by the anti-corruption law. The bank had previously granted permission to conduct the investigation.
According to insiders, the bank has reiterated its position of “no wrongful loss caused to the bank” in its recent communication to the CBI, which was consistent with its stance when granting permission for the probe.
The special CBI court is currently examining the chargesheet and other relevant documents before deciding whether to take cognizance of the chargesheet, a necessary step to initiate a trial.
As per sources, ICICI Bank’s board of directors granted sanction for prosecution on April 22, and the CBI received the communication on May 15, as confirmed by individuals familiar with the matter.”While the board of directors has authorized the prosecution, the communication maintains that no loss was incurred by the bank, and Kochhar will be tried for corruption charges,” stated an official with knowledge of the development.
In July 2021, when granting permission for the inquiry, the bank had stated that “the loans under investigation had been repaid, and no wrongful loss had been incurred by the bank,” according to Amit Desai, Kochhar’s lawyer, who referred to the bank’s communication to the CBI during the remand pleas against her.
Desai further explained that the loans had been granted following due process, but the sanction for prosecution was given based on the bribery and corruption allegations.
The CBI’s case alleges that the bank suffered a wrongful loss of over ₹1,033 crore during Kochhar’s tenure as CEO.In April, the CBI filed its initial chargesheet against Kochhar, her husband Deepak, and Videocon group founder VN Dhoot. All parties involved have denied any wrongdoing.