The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday questioned ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar's brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar in connection with the Rs 3,250 crore loans given by the bank to the Videocon Group. Rajiv Kochhar was detained by the immigration authorities at Mumbai airport when he was going to board a flight to a Southeast Asian country and handed over to CBI officials for questioning.
Rajiv Kochhar is the founder of Avista Advisory which is alleged to have got the mandate to restructure foreign currency denominated debt deals worth over $1.7 billion of seven companies including the Videocon Group over the last six years. All these companies were alleged to have been borrowers of ICICI Bank.
Earlier, the investigating agency had issued a lookout circular (LoC) against Kochhar based on which he was prevented from flying out of the country at the Mumbai international airport by the authorities. According to reports, the agency grilled Rajiv for about seven hours.
The CBI has already questioned some bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry into the ICICI Bank loan to the Videocon Group in 2012 in which there has been an alleged quid pro quo benefiting Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar.
The CBI team has already recorded the statements of nodal officers of ICICI Bank, who dealt with the loan of Rs 4,000 crore extended to the Videocon Group of which Rs 3,250 crore has turned into a non-performing asset. A preliminary enquiry or PE into the case was registered six weeks ago. The PE is reported to have named Venugopal Dhoot, Deepak Kochhar and unidentified others.
Chanda Kochhar, who has recently been cancelling all her high-profile public appointments, could also be questioned along with her husband in the case. Last week, the ICICI Bank board came out in support of Chanda Kochhar, saying it had full faith and confidence in her and described certain reports against her regarding credit disbursement to Videocon Group as malicious and unfounded rumours.
With regard to loans to Videocon Group, it said the bank's current exposure was part of a syndicated consortium arrangement. The bank had claimed that none of the investors in Deepak Kochhar-led NuPower Renewables were borrowers of ICICI Bank.