In 2001, a total of seven members of the Kochhar family together held 2% in Credential Finance, along with Videocon group that held 17.74%
Mumbai: Chanda Kochhar and six members of the Kochhar family held shares in a little-known firm called Credential Finance Ltd, along with Videocon group, at least as far back as 2001, regulatory filings show.
Three of the Kochhars were also directors on the company’s board in 1995, when it was founded, though it’s not clear if Videocon held a stake in the company at that time.
A total of seven members of the Kochhar family—including Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and his brother Rajiv Kochhar—together held a 2% stake in Credential Finance, its shareholding pattern for that year (2001) filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in 2007 showed.
In the same year (2001), Venugopal Dhoot’s Videocon International Ltd held 17.74% and its associate firm Joy Holdings held 0.8% in Credential Finance. Another major shareholder was Mahesh Chandra Punglia, holding 0.8%.
The oldest shareholding data available from the corporate affairs ministry is for 2001 and the latest is for 2013-14, when the firm reported Rs27 crore assets. Mint could not ascertain the firm’s ownership after 2014.
Chanda Kochhar was elevated as ICICI Bank Ltd’s chief executive officer in 2009. She sold or transferred her shares in Credential Finance before 2010, as records during 2010 to 2014 do not show her holding any shares in the firm. The other six Kochhars continued to hold their shares at least until 2013-14, the period for which the latest data is available.
Videocon International, too, cut its shareholding to 4.88% by 2013-14. It is still one of the largest shareholders, along with Mudra Ispat Pvt. Ltd, Estate Investment Co. Pvt. Ltd and Credential Finance Holdings.
The company today has no clear promoter, as all its 90 shareholders hold less than 5% in the company. Founded in 1995 as Bloom Field Builders and Construction Co. Ltd, the company changed its name to Credential Finance in the mid-90s, according to RoC documents. Credential Finance’s directors since 1995 included Deepak Kochhar as managing director, besides Rajiv Kochhar and sister-in-law of Chanda Kochhar, documents show.
Rajiv Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar and Chanda Kochhar’s sister-in-law stepped down from their positions on 17 March 2009, 26 August 2009 and 11 January 2011, respectively, though they continued to hold their shares till at least 2013-14. In 2011, new members joined the board.
In response to Mint’s queries over the phone, Deepak Kochhar said, “I have not been associated with this company for quite some time now; the disassociation happened about 15 years back. Was present in the company till 2009, only in a professional capacity."
Emails and phone queries sent to Rajiv Kochhar, ICICI Bank for Chanda Kochhar, and to Dhoot were not answered despite repeated reminders. Credential Finance phone numbers were not reachable.
An Indian Express report dated 29 March alleged conflict of interest in a Rs3,250 crore loan ICICI Bank gave Videocon group. The amount was part of a Rs40,000 crore loan by a consortium of 20 banks in 2012. Dhoot allegedly gave Rs64 crore in 2010 through a fully-owned entity to NuPower Renewables, which he set up with Deepak Kochhar and two of his kin. It is alleged that he transferred proprietorship of the firm to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for Rs9 lakh six months after he received the loan from ICICI Bank.
However, M.K. Sharma, chairman of ICICI Bank, on 29 March said there is “no conflict of interest as Videocon group is not an investor in NuPower Renewables".
Credential Finance last traded on BSE in June 1996, and there is no financial statement available on the exchange. On 23 August 2017, the firm was delisted owning to years of non-compliance.
In 2003, Banque Indo Suez, now known as Caylon Bank, had moved a winding-up plea against the firm in Bombay high court for Rs40 lakh dues. The court approved liquidation on 18 March 2008 and a liquidator was appointed.
On 4 March 2009, the high court’s liquidation order was set aside as some “well wishers" on part of the firm agreed to pay Rs40 lakh in three instalments. Mint could not ascertain who these well wishers were.