The course of charges and investigation as regards to ICICI bank’s MD and CEO, Chanda Kochhar doesn’t seem to stop. Arvind Gupta, the whistle blower who exposed the entire ICICI scam, has also made some new allegations and made them public in a letter to the prime minister.
After Chanda Kochhar was accused of benefiting her husband’s Nupower company through a deal between Videocon and ICICI Bank, the bank’s management instituted an enquiry into the matter, on top of an independent probe that will be underway soon.
Now, in an anonymous complaint filed by some senior insider, another serious allegation has been made—that Chanda Kochhar has violated the Bank’s Code of Conduct.
That means, Chanda Kochhar not only ignored the conflict of interest in her decisions but also violated the code of conduct, which is a serious allegation. ICICI has earlier sacked many employees on the basis of these charges.
Deepak Shrivastava, another whistle-blower who exposed the scams in ICICI-Lombard, told National Herald that he was sacked from his job on charges of violation of the code of conduct. “Why hasn’t the head of the organisation been removed when such a serious allegation has been levelled on her?” asks Deepak.
Throwing light on the government probe against ICICI Bank, financial expert and the whistleblower, who exposed the irregularities in ICICI bank, Arvind Gupta, told National Herald that the bank had favoured Ruia brothers of the Essar group for 'round-tripping' investments into Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Group - a firm which is also at the centre of an ongoing probe by the Income Tax (IT Department).
Arvind Gupta made his charges against the ICICI Bank in a letter he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 11. Gupta alleges that Essar Group-promoters Ruias funded the NuPower and its subsidiary through their son-in-law Nishant Kanodia and nephew Anirudh Bhuwalka during December 2010 to March 2012 by subscribing to compulsorily convertible preference shares and equity shares.
It may be noted here that Arvind Gupta had written another letter to PM in March 2016 , in which he had highlighted the dealings between Chanda Kochhar's husband, Deepak, and Videocon Group, and the investment in Deepak Kochhar’s company.
At present, the CBI, ED and Income Tax are all probing the charges Gupta had made in the explosive first letter.
In his latest letter, Arvind Gupta has claimed that NuPower Renewables, through the Matix Group and Firstland Holdings, which are owned by Nishant Kanodia (son-in-law of Essar’s Ravi Ruia) round-tripped investments.
The Matix Group front-ended the Firstland Holdings, Mauritius, to invest ₹325 core in the NuPower Group -- the group owned by the husband of Chanda Kochhar. On this, Arvind Gupta says, "Evidently, the malice of quid pro quo extends to another crony capitalist - the Ruia brothers of the Essar Group, now headquartered in Mauritius -- the safe haven,” says Gupta.
“Matix Group has been the proxy investor for Essar in making quid pro quo investments in NuPower Renewables,” he states.
The ICICI Bank and Essar Group have denied these charges. An Essar group spokesperson said, “Essar does not have any business interest in Firstland Holdings.”
As of now, Chanda Kochhar has gone on leave. According to insiders, she has been asked to stay on leave till the enquiry into the financial allegations conclude.
Sources note that the official version, that she has gone on the already scheduled vacation, is a face-saver for Kochhar just for now.
What’s becoming clear, and nobody is denying the fact, is that there were serious irregularities in the bank’s functioning. The bank, concerned about its image, has already started the enquiry. What emerges from all the ongoing probes is eagerly awaited. But the bank’s reputation, undoubtedly, has been tarnished.
(Translated into English by Pragati Saxena).