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Rediff.com  » Business » Chanda Kochhar seeks more time to appear before Sebi for a personal hearing

Chanda Kochhar seeks more time to appear before Sebi for a personal hearing

October 15, 2018 15:20 IST

Kochhar has been issued a showcause notice by the regulator for alleged violation of the code of conduct.

ICICI Bank’s former managing director and chief executive officer (MD and CEO), Chanda Kochhar, has sought more time to appear before the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for a personal hearing, said a source in the know.

 

Kochhar has been issued a showcause notice by the regulator for alleged violation of the code of conduct.

The issue is not disclosing a potential conflict of interest arising out of business dealings between ICICI when she was its MD, Videocon Industries and her husband, Deepak Kochhar’s Nupower Renewables.

The coming Tuesday had been set as the final date for personal hearing, cross-questioning and recording of her statement.

“(Her) representative has informed Sebi’s adjudicating officer, who is probing the case, that she would not be able to keep Tuesday’s date and has sought a month’s time,” said a source. Adding: “Regulatory officials are mulling the options and studying the reasons cited for the extension by Kochhar.”

A text message sent to Kochhar on Friday did not elicit a response. Kochhar had, on October 4, opted for early retirement from the bank.

The resignation offer was accepted with immediate effect and Sandeep Bakhshi named as her successor the same day.

Earlier, on June 18, Kochhar was asked to go on leave until an independent enquiry to probe this and related cases of impropriety were concluded. Bakhshi was named the interim head.

Kochhar's exit came before the completion of the four months of leave she had been granted.

Under the law, a bank cannot operate with an interim chief for more than four months.

For Kochhar to have returned as chief, the probe would had to be completed before October 17. It appears the enquiry, by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, would take one more month.

According to the sources, Kochhar and her legal representative are awaiting the Srikrishna panel's report before the Sebi appearance.

Srikrishna is looking into all the allegations against Kochhar, including the assets she owned and the links between assets acquired and the loan being sanctioned to Videocon Industries.

The panel is likely to also call Kochhar to hear her, said another person.

Sebi had issued its showcause notice on May 23, based on a preliminary enquiry.

It has said there was potential conflict of interest in the transactions between ICICI and the Videocon group.

By not disclosing the details of her husband's dealings with Videocon, she had not complied with the provisions of the listing agreement (with the stock exchanges).

Therefore, proceedings were initiated by Sebi against both the bank and her.

Kochhar had replied to Sebi, debying all the charges on breach of the code of conduct.

She had claimed all the requisite disclosures were adhered to by her, in line with the code of conduct of the bank, mandated for the top management and senior employees.

The CBI and the income tax department are also probing the alleged lapses involving Kochhar and her family members.

CBI registered a preliminary enquiry around seven months earlier but is yet to convert this into a formal First Information Report (police case, in common parlance).

The tax authorities are awaiting information about Nupower Renewables’ related entities from its foreign counterparts at Singapore and Mauritius.

Photograph: PTI Photo

Shrimi Choudhary in Mumbai
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