Mumbai/Delhi: ICICI Bank Ltd is yet to reply to a notice by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) seeking clarifications on the disclosure of price-sensitive information, the bank said in a filing made to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday.
The markets regulator is investigating whether ICICI Bank and its chief executive officer, Chanda Kochhar, had failed to make adequate disclosures to the bank’s board about her husband Deepak Kochhar’s partnership in NuPower Renewables, when the bank had sanctioned loans to companies controlled by Venugopal Dhoot, the owner of Videocon group, and a founding partner of NuPower.
“SEBI issued a show-cause notice to Ms. Kochhar and to the bank in May 2018 related to the allegations. The bank is in the process of responding to the relevant allegations in the notice which pertain to the bank," it said in the filing to the US Sec.
ICICI Bank also admitted for the first time that CBI had initiated a preliminary enquiry against various individuals and firms including officials of the bank, according to bank’s annual filing, the 20-F document, made to the US SEC. The bank, however, did not reveal the names of the executives or the charges levelled against them.
On 23 May, Sebi had sent a 12-page notice to the bank and Kochhar, alleging violation of listing obligation and disclosure requirements (LODR).
Kochhar decided to go on an indefinite leave on 19 June, with the bank appointing ICICI Prudential Life Insurance CEO Sandeep Bakhshi as whole-time director and chief operating officer (COO), creating a new top position and entrusting him to steer the bank’s business.
The bank made the changes at the top management after the board decided to set up a panel under justice B.N. Srikrishna to investigate alleged conflict of interest and quid pro quo against Kochhar in the Videocon loan case. The Srikrishna panel is being assisted by law firm Luthra and Luthra.
In a separate development, law firm Panag and Babu is looking into yet another whistleblower complaint alleging that the bank had inflated profits by at least $1.3 billion over eight years, by delaying provisioning for bad loans. The complainant also said that the top executives, including Kochhar and executive director Vijay Chandok, wilfully breached rules to avoid classifying the loans as bad.
In its notice to shareholders ahead of its annual general meeting on 12 September, ICICI Bank had said that Bakhshi’s monthly salary for the current financial year was ₹ 4.81 crore, including supplementary allowances. In comparison, Kochhar’s monthly remuneration in FY18 was ₹ 6.4 crore, while in the previous fiscal year it was ₹ 5.6 crore.