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Srikrishna panel seeks replies from Chanda Kochhar

By Shrimi Choudhary
December 31, 2018 12:11 IST
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The Srikrishna panel is believed to have examined each financial transaction between the Kochhar family and the Videocon group and the suspected trail of properties and assets that the family acquired since Chanda Kochhhar became ICICI Bank's MD.
Shrimi Choudhary reports.

Photograph: PTI Photo

The ICICI Bank-appointed committee set up under retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna is reaching closure in its probe on allegations of code of conduct and conflict of interest by the bank's former managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar in the Rs 32.5 billion ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case.

Based on the probe findings so far in the matter, the committee has sought replies from Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank, and other involved entities.

The committee is expected to complete the investigations and submit the report by the third week of January.

 

According to sources, the Srikrishna panel has sent queries to all the involved entities, seeking specific details around the loan sanction to Videocon group.

"The queries to the parties also cover missing links, which are essential to understand the whole genesis," said the person.

The panel is believed to have examined each financial transaction between the Kochhar family and Videocon group, and the suspected trail of properties and assets that the Kochhar family acquired since she became the bank's MD.

The panel has also taken account of the banking relationship with Videocon's other corporate houses, and concessions, if any, were provided to them.

Sources say the Srikrishna panel has thoroughly studied the role of the credit committee which sanctioned the loan to the Videocon group given that large exposures to corporates like Videocon were approved by the board's credit committee.

According to the records, ICICI Bank's credit committee in 2012 had sanctioned its share of facilities to the Videocon group.

It was a 12-member committee headed by then chairman K V Kamath.

ICICI Bank gave the Rs 32.5 billion loan as part of the 20-bank consortium which approved total loans of Rs 400 billion.

"The investigation into several allegations enters the final stage. I am expecting the outcome by the third week of January," says Justice Srikrishna.

The panel has taken all aspects into consideration along with the replies it has received so far in the matter.

Sources said if required, the Srikrishna panel would ask various parties to make a personal appearance after their written submissions.

Another person close to the development said the probe report will be comprehensive, covering all digital records such as emails from 2009 to date.

The report will include the genesis of business dealings that warranted the probe.

The panel has considered the forensic audit, e-mails, and personnel financials to come to a logical conclusion.

Further, it has reviewed the Reserve Bank of India's 2016 detailed scrutiny in the ICICI Bank's dealing with Videocon.

The RBI in its report had flagged that NuPower Renewables, a company owned by Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar, had received funding by way of unsecured fully convertible debentures of Rs 640 million from Videocon group company Supreme Energy, said sources.

However, the RBI could not establish the allegations as no reciprocal benefits were being identified.

Sources said the Srikrishna panel had probed investments in NuPower Renewables independently.

The panel has also gone through the investigative agencies's enquiry into this alleged nexus.

The Srikrishna Committee report would be critical for Chanda Kochhar and ICICI Bank who are already facing a probe by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Sebi has issued show cause notice to the bank and Kochhar and initiated adjudication proceedings against them.

In June 2018, the ICICI Bank board appointed Justice Srikrishna to conduct an independent probe after it received whistle-blower complaints that Kochhar had violated the bank's code of conduct and there were quid pro quo dealings in the loan given to the Videocon group, which had, in turn, financed NuPower Renewables.

Kochhar opted for an early retirement amid the probe and had clarified to the market regulator that she was only part of the credit committee without any veto power.

She said she had attended only 8 out of the 30 meetings held for the Videocon group ever since she took over as the bank's MD.

ICICI Bank declined comment while queries to Kochhar did not elicit any response.

The Money trail
  • ICICI Bank orders independent enquiry to probe allegations against Chanda Kochhar in June.
  • Former Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna appointed to probe the Videocon loan case.
  • Panel reviews forensic audit of transactions between Kochhars and the Videocon group.
  • Examines digital records, e-mails related to the Videocon loan case from 2009 to date.
  • Studies the role of credit committee which sanctioned the loan to the Videocon group.
  • Considers findings of investigative agencies and RBI of possible nexus in business dealings.
  • Seeks specific details from all involved persons and entities.
  • Report to be submitted by third week of January.
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Shrimi Choudhary Mumbai
Source: source
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