After an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case in the high profile loan case involving former MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar.
The CBI has already booked Chanda, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group MD Venugopal Dhoot and others in the high profile Videocon loan case.
ET was the first to report on January 25 that ED was examining the case and was likely to register a case to probe the charges of money laundering.
The agency was of the view that a “predicate offense” of money laundering by the accused is made out.
The agency will primarily examine whether Chanda Kochhar made personal gains by alleged irregularities in the release of loans sanctioned by ICICI bank to Videocon in 2012.
Under scanner is the funding of Rs 64 crores to Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables Private Limited (NRPL) by way of “unsecured fully convertible debentures (FCDs) by Dhoot’s group company of Videocon will be looked into by ED, said people quoted above.
It might be mentioned here that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as first reported by ET in April last year, had gone into the said funding which was allegedly done in return of favors.
“The funding of Rs64 crore had come from a back to back issue of convertible debentures to another counterpart, whose identity could not be established”, the RBI had said in its inquiry report.
Since a predicate offense is prima facie made out, the case will be examined and a logical decision (to register a case) will be taken at the earliest, said a top official requesting anonymity.
The ICICI bank earlier this week sacked Chanda Kochhar after she was indicted by the Justice B N Srikrishna panel for violating the bank’s code of conduct.
As first reported by ET, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Mumbai in May 2017 had levied a penalty of Rs 14 crore on Videocon, six group companies and promoter Venugopal Dhoot, following a reference from the Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) which had examined these entities as part of a probe into conflict of interest allegations against ICICI CEO Chanda Kochhar in 2016. The ED penalty was on the ground that these companies had violated foreign exchange laws.
An additional penalty of Rs 45 lakh was also imposed collectively on Venugopal Dhoot and on directors of Videocon and the six group companies.
Responding to queries, Venugopal Dhoot had told ET that an “appeal has been filed (against the EDorder)”. He had told ET that the penalty has been stayed (by the Court) stayed till further hearing. Dhoot added (via text message) that the “proceedings in question are civil (under FEMA) and not criminal”.
RBI had prepared a confidential report in 2016 after a complaint received by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) from an investor, Arvind Gupta.
Gupta had alleged quid pro quo against Chanda Kochhar ledICICI bank and Videocon group. He had also alleged that the “helping hand” of ICICI was extended to Videocon’s Tusker.
To this charge, RBI in its confidential report in 2016 had said that ICICI had “fund and non-fund exposure of Rs 280.50 crores and Rs 86.70 crores respectively as on April 2012 to Tusker.
RBI’s report added “The exposure from the Canadian and UK subsidiary of ICICI Bank Limited could not be ascertained from the bank’s books. In effect, quid pro quo by the bank in the above transaction could not be ascertained”.
Allegations against the accused are that Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot allegedly invested crores of rupees in Nupower months after the Videocon group got Rs 3,250 crore as loan from the ICICI Bank in 2012.