The scrutiny of the credit sanctions in the ICICI-Videocon loan case by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has highlighted these sanctions to Videocon Group between June 2009 and April 2012, when Chanda Kochhar was the bank’s Managing Director and CEO, were an “imprudent decision” and a clear case of “conflict of interest on her part”, as per the Enforcement Directorate charge sheet.
The 308 page charge sheet, filed by the financial probe agency in Special PMLA court here last month and witnessed by IANS, held that RBI official Malli Sudhakar, in a scrutiny report dated August 3, 2018 and in his statement to the agency on October 16 this year, revealed that there was “conflict of interest” on the part of Kochhar.
Sudhakar had cited “absence of transparency in excluding the charge of securities and releasing existing security of Videocon Group taken by as collateral by ICICI Bank and imprudent decision in sanctioning of proposal to Videocon Group by ICICI Bank, of which Chanda Kochhar was Chairperson of recommending committee and member of sanctioning committee, when she was MD and CEO of the bank”.
The ED contended that the RBI official, in his statement, reiterated that it was an “imprudent decision” by the ICICI Bank to increase its exposure to Videocon Group by sanctioning fresh rupee term loan (RTL) of Rs 750 crore.
Sudhakar further cited the release of security or non-creation of charge by ICICI Bank on the assets of the group.
“The primary security cover available with ICICI Bank in regard to Videocon Group declined from the existing 2.67 times to 1.67 times,” he said.
He also claimed that there was a “conflict of interest” on part of ICICI Bank, as advocates and solicitors for the RTL agreement between the bank and the Videocon under debt consolidation were Amarchand and Mangaldas and Suresh A. Shroff and Company.
He claimed that the same firm was also appointed as the legal firm by the board of the bank to investigate into the alleged quid pro quo arrangement between Chanda and Videocon group reflecting conflict of interest.
The ED claimed that even Justice B.N. Srikrishna (retd), who was appointed as Head of Enquiry by the bank to conduct an independent enquiry into allegations against the then CEO and MD in his report noticed that “violations were caused by Chanda Kochhhar due to her non-disclosure regarding dealing of non-arm length transactions carried out by her and her family with Credentials Finance Ltd (CFL), Videocon Group and others”.
It said that the evidences stated by the RBI official and the Enquiry Committee revealed that Kochhar “deliberately did not disclose association of herself and her husband Deepak Kochhar with Videocon Group and its chief Venugopal Dhoot”.
It further alleged that Chanda Kochhar did not “recuse” herself from the committees recommending or sanctioning the loan proposals of Vidocon Group and loan of Rs 300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) by a committee headed by her.
The ED alleged that the Rs 300 crore loan was sanctioned with a condition that Dhoot will take care of the interests of her husband.
“Out of Rs 300 crore, Rs 64 crore were diverted by VIL for non-mandated purpose and for the benefit of Deepak Kochhar as the amount was transferred to his company Nupower Renewables Private Ltd (NRPL),” the ED claimed.
The ED filed its first charge sheet in the ICICI-Videocon loan case in first week of November this year, naming the Kochhars, Dhoot and VIEL, Videocon Industries Ltd, NPRL and Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, among others.
Deepak Kochhar is currently in judicial custody after he was arrested by the ED.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in sanctioning six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore to Videocon Industries Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and four other companies associated with the Videocon group between June 2009 and October 2011.
Chanda Kochhar was on the sanctioning committee deciding two loans – Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics on August 26, 2009 and Rs 750 crore to Videocon Industries Limited on October 31, 2011.
The loans were issued in the alleged violation of the laid-down policy and regulations of the bank, sources said.
The term loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned to VIEL was disbursed on September 7, 2009. The next day, Dhoot transferred Rs 64 crore to NuPower Renewables Ltd through Supreme Energy Private Ltd founded by him.