New Delhi: Nearly a week after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked former ICICI Bank chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group managing director (MD) Venugopal Dhoot for criminal conspiracy and cheating, the Justice B.N Srikrishna panel found her guilty of violating the bank’s code of conduct.
The report further seals Chanda Kochhar’s fate, with all three accused and others — including Sandeep Bakhshi, chief operating officer of ICICI Bank, as well as K.V. Kamath, who heads the New Development Bank of BRICS countries and was managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank from 1996 till 2009 — likely to be summoned soon by the CBI in connection with the investigation.
“The Enquiry Report….concluded, primarily on account of ineffectively dealing with conflict of interest and due disclosure or recusal requirements, that Ms Chanda Kochhar was in violation of the ICICI Bank Code of Conduct, its framework for dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties, and in terms of applicable Indian laws, rules and regulations," ICICI Bank said in a statement.
The enquiry report also concluded that Chanda Kochhar’s “lack of diligence with respect to annual disclosures as required by the bank in terms of its internal policies, the ICICI Bank Code of Conduct and applicable Indian laws, rules and regulations on her interests (direct or indirect) towards avoidance of conflict of interest, when considered that the Bank’s processes were dependent solely on the directors discharging their fiduciary duty to recuse themselves and avoid conflict, implies that the Bank’s processes were rendered ineffective by her approach to such disclosures and avoidance of conflict".
On its part, ICICI bank said in a statement that it would decide “to treat the separation of Ms Chanda Kochhar from the Bank as a ‘Termination for Cause’ under the Bank’s internal policies, schemes and the Code of Conduct, with all attendant consequences (including revocation of all her existing and future entitlements such as any unpaid amounts, unpaid bonuses or increments, unvested and vested & unexercised stock options, and medical benefits), and require the clawback of all bonuses paid from April 2009 until March 2018, and to take such further actions as may be warranted in the matter."
The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry against Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot in March 2018 to investigate irregularities in the ₹40,000 crore loan sanctioned by a consortium of lenders to the Videocon group. It also pointed to an alleged conflict of interest in a ₹3,250 crore loan sanctioned to the Videocon group by ICICI Bank.
In June 2018, a panel was set up under retired Supreme Court judge Justice Srikrishna to probe allegations against Chanda Kochhar.
The loan by ICICI Bank to the Videocon group was part of a ₹40,000 crore loan by a consortium of 20 banks in 2012, and was in contravention of “the Banking Regulation Act, Reserve Bank of India guidelines and credit policy of the bank".
Dhoot had allegedly, as part of a quid pro quo arrangement, paid ₹64 crore in 2010 through a fully owned entity to NuPower Renewables Pvt. Ltd that he had set up with Deepak Kochhar and two of his relatives. It was alleged that Dhoot transferred proprietorship of the company to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for ₹9 lakh six months after receiving the loan from ICICI Bank.