Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday intensified its probe into the alleged conflict of interest in loans made to Videocon Group by ICICI Bank Ltd with the questioning of Rajiv Kochhar, the brother-in-law of the lender’s managing director Chanda Kochhar, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Rajiv Kochhar is the founder of financial services firm Avista Advisory Group.
"Rajiv Kochhar is being questioned by the Mumbai wing of CBI in an ongoing probe. The questioning is to ascertain whether there was any conflict of interest in loans granted to Videocon Industries," a senior CBI official, one of the two people cited above, said without disclosing further details.
"Kochhar was detained at the Mumbai airport. CBI cannot confirm where he was flying to," said the second person.
The questioning comes after member of parliament and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy called for a probe into the business links of Avista Advisory Group and ICICI Bank.
On Wednesday, Mint had reported that CBI is not ruling out questioning Chanda Kochhar and husband Deepak Kochhar in the ongoing probe.
CBI had registered a preliminary inquiry last month against Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot for a loan made to the company in 2012 by a consortium of banks. ICICI Bank's exposure to the 20-bank consortium loan is Rs3,250 crore.
So far, CBI has collected documents pertaining to the Rs40,000 crore loan granted to Videocon group by the consortium of lenders and documents pertaining to the setting up of NuPower Renewables Pvt. Ltd, which was founded by Deepak Kochhar, in 2008.
Rajiv Kochhar could not be reached on his cellphone despite several calls. Text messages sent to him were also no answered.
In a 3 April interview, Rajiv Kochhar had denied any commercial dealings with ICICI Bank. He said the reports linking Avista with ICICI Bank were completely baseless and malicious.
“The only rule that we follow is not to have any syndication with Indian banks at all. This is some guy who is just trying to create something. There is nothing in it. There is zero record or link between us. We are a professionally managed firm having our offices in Indonesia and Dubai, and we have dealings all over the world. India is only one part of the story," Rajiv Kochhar said.
According to the company’s website, Avista was an adviser for debt restructuring of Jaiprakash Associates, Jaiprakash Power Ventures, GTL Infrastructure, Suzlon, Jindal Stainless Ltd and Videocon Group.
Avista was also involved in two transactions with Videocon Industries, which is at the centre of the CBI probe—first, when the group opted for reorganization and refinancing of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs) of $194 million in 2015 and later in 2016 when the company hired Avista for restructuring of FCCBs worth $97 million.