Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate on Friday carried out searches at homes and offices linked to Chanda Kochhar, the former chief executive officer of ICICI Bank Ltd, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Venugopal Dhoot, promoter of Videocon Industries Ltd, in a case of alleged money laundering, ED said on its official Twitter handle.
The raids, which started early Friday morning, were carried out at several places in Mumbai and Aurangabad, including the Mumbai-based office of Videocon and the residences of the Kochhars, according to ED officials.
Messages sent to Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot were not answered till the publishing of this story.
The ED registered a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the first week of February on the basis of a CBI probe.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning of ₹1,875 crore in loans to Videocon International Electronics Ltd by ICICI Bank in 2012. Of this, a term loan of ₹300 crore was allegedly part of a quid pro quo for the business group’s dealings with her husband Deepak Kochhar. Chanda Kochhar is alleged to have misused her office and received illegal gratification through her husband from Dhoot for this ₹300 crore loan.
CBI had registered a preliminary inquiry against Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot in March 2018 to investigate irregularities in the ₹40,000 crore loan made by a consortium of lenders to the Videocon Group. It also pointed to an alleged conflict of interest in a ₹3,250 crore loan made to the Videocon group by ICICI Bank. Out of the ₹3,250 crore, ₹2,810 crore remains unpaid and the banks ended up declaring the account a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2017.
It is alleged that Dhoot had invested in Deepak Kochhar’s company, NuPower Renewables Ltd, through his firm Supreme Energy, in a quid pro quo for loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as CEO on 1 May 2009. Chanda Kochhar was part of the credit committee which sanctioned the Videocon loan.
Also read: Chanda Kochhar, family had links with Videocon group since at least 2001
The ED is also coordinating with the income tax department, which is probing the companies involved for alleged tax irregularities.
“The income tax department’s findings have been shared with us. Requests have also been sent to certain foreign jurisdictions for information assistance. The requests have been sent under double taxation avoidance agreement and mutual legal assistance treaty. These jurisdictions are where we suspect some of the funds have been routed," said an ED official.
The directorate is also searching the Mumbai office of Mauritius-based Matix Group in connection with alleged transactions between Firstland Holdings Ltd, which is the holding group of Matix, and Deepak Kochhar’s Nupower Renewables, he said.
Nupower is alleged to have received ₹325 crore from Firstland Holdings.
Chanda Kochhar is also facing adjudicating proceedings from Sebi, which has alleged violations of disclosure and the bank’s model code of conduct by her failure to make adequate disclosure and to recuse herself from the credit committee.
Under Sebi norms, if found guilty, Kochhar could face a monetary penalty and be barred from holding directorship in a listed company.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.