ICICI Bank loan fraud case: CBI files charge sheet against Kochhars, Dhoot

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last week filed a charge sheet against former ICICI Bank managing director Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and six others in connection with quid-pro-quo loans granted by ICICI Bank to some Videocon Group entities in return for Dhoot’s investment in Deepak Kochhar’s company.

Apart from the Kochhars and Dhoot, the others charged by the CBI include a relative of Dhoot and a chartered accountant. The charge sheet has been submitted in the registry of the Mumbai sessions court and is still under scrutiny. After scrutiny the charge sheet and copies to be given to the accused and then presented before the special CBI court for taking cognizance.

CBI officers said that the central agency is yet to obtain sanction from ICICI Bank to prosecute Chanda Kocchar, as required under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1985.

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Why Chanda Kochhar arrested?

The Kochhars were arrested on December 23 last year in Delhi for alleged irregularities in ICICI’s loans to six firms of the Videocon Group. Dhoot was arrested three days later, on December 26, for a disguised payoff to Deepak Kochhar. The Kochhars were granted bail by Bombay high court on January 9. Dhoot was also granted bail on January 20.

Rohan Dakshini, partner at law firm Rashmikant and Partners, which represent Kochhars, said they have not yet received a copy of the chargesheet and are not aware about the contents yet. He added that they can comment only after perusal of the copy.

According to CBI, between June 2009 and October 2011, ICICI Bank sanctioned Rupee Term Loans (RTLs) of ₹1,875 crore to six companies of the Videocon Group. All these loans were sanctioned after Chanda Kochhar took over as the MD and CEO of the Bank. She was on the sanctioning committee when two loans – RTLs of ₹300 crore to M/s Videocon International Electronics Limited and ₹750 crore to M/S Videocon Industries Limited (VIL) — were sanctioned.

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The bank had also released the security in the form of fixed deposits of ₹50 crore in the accounts of Videocon Group companies—M/s Sky Appliance Ltd and M/s Techno Electronic Ltd.

CBI said that on April 26, 2012, the existing outstanding of the six RTL accounts were adjusted against the RTL of ₹1,730 crore sanctioned to M/S VIL for refinance of domestic debt. The account of M/s VIL was declared NPA with effect from June 30, 2017 and the present outstanding in the account is ₹1,033 crore.

CBI claimed that after the ₹3000 crore to Videocon International Electronics , an amount of ₹64 crore was received by Deepak Kochhar as kickback. The agency is probing the transaction by which a flat in Mumbai, valued around ₹5.25 crore, was also transferred to a Kochhar family trust.

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The Kochhars lawyers have, however, maintained that Chanda Kochhar cannot be booked or prosecuted for the charge of corruption, as ICICI Bank has refused to grant sanction to prosecute her. They have also contended that the Bank wrote a letter to the agency in July 2021, stating that it had not suffered any wrongful loss due to any of these transactions and stated that there were “errors of facts in the CBI FIR.”

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