The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar who is on indefinite leave due to allegations of conflict of interest said that she was not aware of her husband’s dealings with Venugopal Dhoot. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued a show cause notice to Chanda Kochhar for alleged violation of disclosure requirements under securities law. In a 30 page reply to SEBI, Kochhar said “The interest of the Videocon group directly or indirectly in the company owned/managed by Deepak Kochhar was never brought to the notice of the MD and CEO since both had their professional life and were bound by respective confidentiality clauses.”
According to the whistleblower Arvind Gupta, the husband of ICICI Bank CEO had made huge money through some shady deals with Videocon Group’s Venugopal Dhoot, who in turn got Rs 3,250 crores worth outstanding loans by ICICI Bank to his Group declared as NPAs. The loan was issued by ICICI Bank in 2012 linked to a possible quid pro quo that Venugopal Dhoot allegedly had with Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables. Videocon group made investment of Rs 64 crore in Deepak Kochhar’s renewable energy business at the same time of loan approval was in process. CBI is investigating the case with Venugopal Dhoot and Deepak Kocchar (Husband of ICICI CEO Chanda Kocchar) and few others as the prime accused. However, Kochhar denied allegations of nepotism in her reply which read “the bank procedures are independent of any individual being in a position to influence the outcome. This includes bank executives from the account manager to the head of business, so the cases not meriting processing would not reach the credit committee.”
The investigating agencies has issued notice to Deepak Kochhar to not to leave the country as long the investigation goes on. According to investigators, some companies which are being investigated by agencies are owned by Neelam Advani (Chanda Kochhar’s sister-in-law; her brother’s wife) and Virender Kochhar (Chanda’s father-in-law and Deepak’s father). “The prime focus is on NuPower Renewables and its shareholders. The shareholders have changed over the years and this is where names of companies such as DH Renewable Holding and Pacific Capital Services emerge.” The main investigation of the case is in CBI while other agencies such as Enforcement Directorate, SFIO and the tax department will act on inputs shared by CBI.
Chanda Kochhar, born is a Sindhi family in Jodhpur, Rajasthan is an epitome of the rise of India in 21st century. Born to Roopchand Advani, a professor at Malviya Regional Engineering College Jaipur, Kochhar completed her schooling from St. Angela Sophia School, Jaipur. Later she moved to Mumbai for higher education where she joined Jai Hind College. After graduation, she pursued Cost Accountancy at ICWAI and then acquired Masters Degree in Management Studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. She began her career at ICICI Limited in 1984 and was elevated to the Board of Directors of ICICI Bank in 2001.In less than a decade she was elevated as the Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Bank in 2009 and since then has been responsible for the Bank’s diverse operations in India and overseas. She has been featured in ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ list by Forbes International for seven consecutive years and the ‘Most Powerful Women in Business’ list by Fortune India for five consecutive years. She was also named TIME magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the world’ in 2015.
When the allegations were made, Kochhar was forced to go on indefinite leave while Sandeep Bakhshi, managing director and CEO of group company ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd was appointed as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer to take Kochhar’s job. Now, it will be interesting to see whether Chanda Advani Kochhar comes out of these allegations successfully or not