Chanda Kochhar misappropriated ICICI Bank’s funds for personal use: CBI to special court

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday told a special court here that former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar misappropriated the lender’s funds for personal use.

The probe agency, represented by special public prosecutor A Limosin, made this argument while urging the special court to take cognizance of the chargesheet filed against Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and others in a case pertaining to cheating and irregularities in sanctioning of loans to Videocon Group firms.

Chanda Kochhar was MD and CEO of ICICI Bank between May 2009 and January 2019 in which capacity she was entrusted with the Bank’s funds, the CBI told court.

She was liable to discharge such trust in accordance with Reserve Bank of India guidelines and loan policies of ICICI Bank, the CBI argued.

She conspired with the other accused persons to sanction or get sanctioned credit facilities in favour of companies of Videocon Group, the CBI said.

In furtherance of criminal conspiracy, a term loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Limited was sanctioned in August 2009 by the committee of directors headed by Chanda Kochhar.

The loan amount was disbursed through a complex structure involving various companies of Videocon and Rs 64 crore was transferred under the garb of investment to NuPower Renewable Limited of her husband Deepak Kochhar, the court was told.

The special public prosecutor further submitted that Chanda Kochhar resided in a flat in Mumbai owned by Videocon Group. The flat was subsequently transferred to her family trust (of which Deepak Kochhar is managing trustee) for a meagre amount of Rs 11 lakh in October 2016, while the actual value of the flat was Rs 5.25 crore in the year 1996.

Chanda Kochhar accepted/obtained illegal gratification, other than legal remuneration, of Rs 64 crore as a motive and also, thereby, misappropriated the Bank’s fund for her own use, the CBI submitted.

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The CBI also argued that Deepak Kochhar conspired with other accused persons to get credit facilities sanctioned by ICICI Bank in favour of Videocon Group through his wife and to get illegal gratification of Rs 64 crore in the garb of investment through a web of transactions.

The Kochhar couple was arrested by the CBI in December last year in connection with the case.

Later, the Bombay High Court granted interim bail to the couple and came down heavily on the CBI for making the arrest in a “casual and mechanical” manner and without application of mind.

The CBI had named the Kochhars and Videocon’s Venugopal Dhoot, along with companies Nupower Renewables (NRL) managed by Deepak Kochhar, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Limited, as accused in the FIR registered under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2019.

As per the CBI, ICICI Bank had sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to the companies of Videocon Group promoted by Dhoot in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines, and credit policy of the bank.

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