Court takes cognizance of charge sheet against Chanda Kochhar, others

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here on Wednesday took cognizance of a charge sheet filed against former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochar and Videocon founder Venugopal Dhoot in an alleged loan fraud.

After taking cognisance, special judge S P Naik-Nimbalkar issued summons against all the accused, asking them to appear before the court on August 2.

Once a court takes cognizance of a charge sheet, charges are framed, and the trial starts.

Chanda Kochhar, who was MD and CEO of the ICICI Bank between May 2009 and January 2019, conspired with others to sanction credit facilities to companies of the Videocon Group in violation of the Bank’s norms, the CBI claimed in the charge sheet.

A term loan of Rs 300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics Limited in August 2009 by the committee of directors headed by Chanda Kochhar. The amount was disbursed through a complex structure involving various companies of Videocon, and Rs 64 crore were transferred under the garb of investment to NuPower renewable Limited of Deepak Kochhar, the CBI alleged.

Chanda Kochhar lived in a flat owned by the Videocon Group in Mumbai, and later it was transferred to her family trust (Deepak Kochhar being its Managing Trustee) for just Rs 11 lakh in October 2016, while the actual value of the flat was Rs 5.25 crore, the CBI alleged.

She also allegedly accepted or obtained illegal gratification, other than legal remuneration, of Rs 64 crore and thereby misappropriated the Bank’s funds for her own use, the charge sheet said.

The Kochhars were arrested by the Central probe agency in December 2022. The Bombay High Court subsequently 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.

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The CBI named the Kochhars and 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 First Information Report (FIR) registered under Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2019.

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

Dhoot too was arrested in the case and is currently out on bail.

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