NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate on Monday arrested Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, in a major development which is seen as a prelude to possible drastic action also against the once-celebrated boss of ICICI Bank and Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of Videocon group.
The ED’s action against the Kochhars comes ahead of the filing of a chargesheet in the case, with sources in the anti-money laundering agency claiming that they decided to take Deepak Kochhar, a businessman whose company received funds from Dhoot in lieu of ICICI Bank sanctioning loans to Videocon group, into custody because of his refusal to cooperate.
Sources said the Kochhars and Dhoot have been dodging specific questions about the “quid pro quo” established by the money trail. “We’ve traced all the bribe money paid to the Kochhars by Dhoot through banking transactions in companies and trusts owned and controlled by them,” said a senior official in volved with the probe.
The source said during their questioning, Chanda Kochhar and Dhoot were doggedly evasive despite being confronted with transaction details mapping out the alleged quid pro quo. In January, the ED had attached assets of the Kochhars worth Rs 78 crore as “proceeds of crime”.
In its provisional attachment order, the ED accused the banker and her husband of receiving Rs 64 crore from Videocon in NuPower Renewables Ltd, owned by Deepak Kochhar. The amount was transferred into the account of NuPower Renewables in September 2009, just a day after Chanda Kochhar-led ICICI Bank sanctioned a loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Limited.
Chanda Kochhar is accused of “illegal sanctioning loans” worth Rs 1,875 crore to Videocon group of companies. It was the CBI which filed an FIR against the former ICICI Bank CEO and her husband on January 22, 2019.
Based on CBI’s FIR, the ED initiated an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act trailing Rs 325 crore Deepak Kochhar allegedly received in his Nupower Renewables from two Mauritius-based entities. Chanda Kochhar was instrumental in ICICI Bank refinancing huge loans to the Videocon group which later turned into non-performing assets for the bank.
In turn, Kochhar and her family allegedly received an apartment in Mumbai, worth Rs 75 crore, owned by a Videocon group company. This was done by way of acquiring the company through Chanda Kochhar’s family trust at a nominal price by creating book entries, according to the ED in its provisional attachment order. A book entry refers to phony transactions which are not backed up by actual exchange of money.
Courtesy Times of India