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Former ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kocchar
Former ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kocchar

SC rejects Kochhar’s plea against HC order

  • Kochhar had challenged the Bombay High Court’s 5 March that dismissed her petition against her termination on the grounds that the termination was under a private contract and it can’t be challenged.

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the appeal filed by Chanda Kochhar against the Bombay High Court order, which terminated her as the managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank.

“We are not inclined to interfere in impugned order. This falls within the realm of private contract between bank and employee... We cannot interfere," the apex court said.

Kochhar had also sought all the pensionary benefits, including bonuses and stock options, post her termination. She had challenged the Bombay High Court’s 5 March that dismissed her petition against her termination on the grounds that the termination was under a private contract and it can’t be challenged.

Also read: India can’t make up its mind on PSUs, 30 years after liberalisation

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 5 November had filed the first charge-sheet against former ICICI Bank chief executive officer and managing director Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot for money laundering. The probe agency had also named Videocon International Electronics Ltd, Videocon Industries Ltd, Nu Power Renewables Pvt. Ltd and Supreme Energy Pvt. Ltd in the chargesheet.

As per the ED, in a case of quid-pro-quo, ICICI Bank under Chanda Kochhar, had allegedly extended high-value loans to Videocon Industries in lieu of investments in Deepak Kochhar’s company NuPower Renewables via Supreme Energy. In January, the ED provisionally attached assets worth 78 crore.

So far, the ED has alleged irregularities in sanctioning six loans to Videocon group companies between June 2009 and October 2011 worth 1,875 crore by ICICI Bank. Out of these, Chanda Kochhar allegedly misused her office and received illegal gratification through her husband from Dhoot in a 300-crore term loan sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics, which in turn transferred 64 crore through Supreme Energy to Deepak Kochhar-owned NuPower.

However, Kochhar has maintained that this was a pure business transaction and not a case of illegal gratification.

The ED had registered a money laundering case in the first week of February 2019 based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe on 22 January 2019. It is also investigating irregularities in the loans granted to Essar Steel Minnesota during 2010-11 and Sterling Biotech which defaulted loans of 8,000 crore, besides Bhushan Powe & Steel Limited. Sterling and Bhushan are being probed separately by ED and CBI. In the case of Essar Steel, ED’s investigation revealed that Ravi Ruia’s son-in-law Nishant Kanodia had invested 300 crore in NuPower through First-hand Holding and Mauritius-based Matrix Pvt. Ltd.

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