Chanda Kochhar's husband and NuPower Renewables co-founder and CEO Deepak Kochhar has denied any quid-pro-quo in sanctioning of Rs 3,250 crore loan to Videocon by the ICICI Bank in response to a questionnaire sent by Business Today. Also, Venugopal Dhoot has refuted the charge that NuPower Renewables was a joint venture between Videocon and Deepak Kochhar.
Meanwhile, questions sent to ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar were responded to by ICICI Bank Chairman MK Sharma, who told Business Today that Kochhar was travelling abroad. Deepak Kochhar has been in the eye of the storm for allegedly receiving an investment by companies owned by Videocon Group's Venugopal Dhoot soon after the loans to the debt-laden Videocon were sanctioned by the ICICI Bank.
NuPower Renewables CEO Deepak Kochhar's response
Q 1. Is it a fact that the Videocon group and you, and the companies you head, formed a joint venture called NuPower Renewables?
A: NuPower Renewables is not a joint venture with the Videocon group. Mr VN Dhoot was one of the initial directors when NuPower was formed, but resigned within 20 days of being appointed as a Director.
Q 2. Is it a fact that Videocon invested Rs 64 crore in NuPower and had a shareholding of 2.32% whereas you invested Rs 1.89 crore and acquired 92.67% stake and later the entire stake of Videocon was generously transferred to you?
A: Videocon has never invested any funds in NuPower and held no stake in NuPower.
Q 3. Is it a fact that DH Renewables Holdings Ltd, Mauritius had one share in NuPower Renewables and later this company became the majority shareholder of NuPower Renewables?
A: DH Renewable Holdings held an equity share and cumulative convertible preference shares (CCPS) in NuPower Renewables. The CCPS were later converted into equity shares at Fair Market Value as per applicable Regulations.
Q 4. Is it a sheer coincidence that each time a loan was extended to the Videocon group, a corresponding 10% investment was extended to DH Holdings? For example, just after the complete transfer of ownership and control of NuPower to the Kochar family, Rs 3250 crore loan was extended to the Videocon group and another Rs 660 crore to an overseas entity of the Videocon group by ICICI Bank. In this corresponding period, NuPower Renewables received Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore.
A: Loans given by ICICI to Videocon have no relevance or concern with NuPower.
Q 5. Is it a fact that the Rs 660 cr loan raised through Tuskar Overseas was routed back as investment in one of the Videocon group of companies in violation of FEMA?
A: Question number 5 is not applicable to NuPower.
Q 6. Would you consider this arrangement a quid pro quo?
A: Your question number 6 of a quid pro quo is entirely baseless. There is no quid pro quo at all.
Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot's response
NuPower was not a JV with Videocon or myself. I was invited as an initial director of NuPower Renewables formed on December 24, 2008, due to my experience in solar energy projects and subscribed to 24,996 shares of NuPower at par. However, on January 15, 2009, I resigned as the director of NuPower Renewables and Supreme Energy Private Ltd and sold at par the 24,996 shares of NuPower and 9990 shares of Supreme Energy held by me. Thereby, I relinquished my right, title and interests in the said shares and gave up control and management of Supreme Energy.
- I completely disassociated myself from both the companies all on the same day as I got too busy with my other larger business like oil and gas, telecommunication, etc. Besides the 24,996 shares of NuPower held by me of value Rs 2, 49,960, neither Videocon nor me held any shares in NuPower.
- Therefore, transfer of any such entire stake of Videocon in NuPower to Mr Kochhar does not arise.We have no connection with DH Renewables. Our loans from various banks, including ICICI Bank, has no connection with DH Renewables as alleged by you. We deny this allegation regarding Tuskar Overseas.
- The loans sanctioned by banks, including ICICI Bank, are cleared by a committee of directors before whom a detailed project appraisal and risk analysis carried out by various departments of the bank are presented for loan sanction. Hence, no individual can indulge in favouritism. Our loan sanctioned by ICICI Bank in 2012 was under a consortium of several banks led by SBI at the same terms as sanctioned by the consortium bankers. ICICI Bank took its share of the loan in the consortium.
ICICI Chairman MK Sharma's response on behalf of Chanda Kochhar
Business Today asked some questions related to the loan controversy involving Videocon and NuPower Renewables to ICICI bank Managing Director Chanda Kochhar. However, ICICI Bank Chairman MK Sharma replied to the questions, saying since she is travelling abroad, the management has referred the mail to him as Chairman of the Board of the bank. Here is Sharma's response.
- The Videocon Group has been a client of ICICI since 1985. ICICI Bank's current exposure to the Videocon Group is part of the loans sanctioned by a consortium of over 20 banks and financial institutions. State Bank of India is the lead bank of the consortium. As per the norm, State Bank of India drew up the primary loan proposal for this particular case, after the appraisal of the borrower.
- Post the decision of the consortium, the Credit Committee of ICICI Bank sanctioned its share of the facilities to the Videocon Group. The majority of Credit Committee members are independent directors of the bank. The Chairman of the Credit Committee, till as late as June 2015, was always a non-Executive Director. The terms and conditions offered for these loans are identical as those offered by the other banks in the consortium ruling out the possibility of any special benefit to the borrower by TCICI Bank.
- None of the investors at NuPower Renewables are borrowers of the Bank. All these clearly demonstrate that there is no quid pro quo arrangement or conflict of interest. I would also like to state that ICICI bank has a well-structured and standardised credit approval process, which includes a well-established procedure of comprehensive credit appraisal, credit approvals and monitoring.
- There are adequate checks and balances in loan appraisal rating and approval processes within the bank. Given this architecture, no individual employee, whatever may be his or her position, has the ability to influence the credit decision at the bank.