ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar will no longer be guest of honour at the FICCI Ladies Organisation annual event. President Ram Nath Kovind is the chief guest for the April 5 function at which 10 entreprenuers were to be honoured. FICCI official Sarita Rashmi told India Today, "We don't know the reason why she opted out but her office called up to inform that she would not be joining in".
When reached for a comment, ICICI spokesperson refused to comment. Kochhar was to be the guest of honour at the April 5 event and invitations sent out last month mentioned her name prominently. The FICCI's Ladies Organisation (FLO) Icon award is given to women who have excelled in their fields. Others who are to be honoured include film producer Ekta Kapoor, writer Namita Gokhale and actor Twinkle Khanna. Pinky Reddy of the GVK group will be taking over as the new president of the women's wing.
As per a FICCI statement, Kochhar was chosen because "She is widely recognised for her role in shaping the retail banking sector in India and for her leadership of the ICICI Group". "President Ram Nath Kovind will be the chief guest and deliver the keynote address at the 34th Annual session of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) the women business wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on April 5, 2018, in New Delhi. Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO of ICICI Bank will be the Guest of Honour," a statement issued by FLO had said on March 31.
Kochhar has come under a cloud over a conflict of interest charge for allegedly giving a Rs 4,000 crore loan to the Videocon group of companies as a quid pro quo to help her husband Deepak Kochhar. Videocon is accused of investing 10 per cent of a loan given to his companies by ICICI into a firm allegedly promoted by Deepak Kochar.
Filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) indicate that two loans were given to Videocon group of companies in April 2012. The first was for Rs 3250 crore and the second for Rs 660 crore. At the same time, a Mauritius based company, DH Renewables Holding Limited invested Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore in NuPower Renewables, a firm promoted by Deepak Kochhar.
DH renewable Holding ltd is said to be company controlled by Venugopal Dhoot. Dhoot, Kochar and ICICI bank have denied a conflict of interest.
However, following the India Today expose, the CBI has lodged a preliminary enquiry into the case naming Deepak Kochar as one of those being inquired into. Chanda Kochhar has not been named. Interestingly, the Enforcement Directorate has not yet started a probe even though all documents concerned had been sought by its head office over a year ago.