ICICI-Videocon loan controversy: Questions that Chanda and Deepak Kochhar must address

Arguably the best-known banker in India, Padma Bhushan Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO of India’s largest private bank ICICI is yet to respond to allegations of ‘nepotism’ and ‘wrongful personal gain’

Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

Even as the board of directors of ICICI Bank gives a clean chit to its Managing Director and CEO, Chanda Kochhar herself is yet to respond to the allegation of wrongful personal gain through an abuse of her position.

Meanwhile, whistle blower Arvind Gupta on Friday maintained that neither the Government nor RBI or any other agency had reached out to him. He had noticed the transactions between the companies owned by Kochhar’s husband and Videocon’s Venugopal Dhoot since 2012, as he was a shareholder of both ICICI Bank and Videocon.

He reiterated that he was merely calling for an external forensic examination into the transactions, first between ICICI Bank and Videocon and secondly between Deepak Kochhar’s company Nupower Renewables and companies owned by Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon.

The questions which need to be answered by Chanda Kochhar, say both the whistle blower and bankers, are the following:

  1. Why did Venugopal Dhoot exit Nupower Renewables within a month of co-founding it with Deepak Kochhar and transfer his shares to Kochhar for ₹2.5 lakh? (since Dhoot held 50% of the company’s shares, the paid capital appears to have been just ₹5 lakh in 2008)
  2. Why did Dhoot’s company Supreme Energy give an unsecured loan of ₹64 crore to Nupower?
  3. Why did Kochhar transfer 94% of his shares back to Supreme Energy, holding only 5% of the shares in Nupower ?
  4. Why did Dhoot then transfer his entire stake in Supreme Energy to his associate Mahesh Chandra Punglia ?
  5. Why did Punglia then transfer his stakes to a Trust run by Kochhar for a consideration of ₹9 lakh, giving Kochhar the ownership of Nupower?

Remarkably, six months after Deepak Kochhar gained full ownership of the firm, ICICI Bank sanctioned two loans worth ₹4,000 crore to Videocon Group of companies.

Other questions raised by observers on Friday were the following:

  1. What was Videocon's loan guarantee to ICICI Bank?
  2. What was its credit score when the bank approved the loan?
  3. Did Chanda Kochhar declare her husband's business association with Venugopal Dhoot?
  4. Why was loan given to a firm in the tax haven of Cayman Islands?

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