The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued look out circulars against former former ICICI Bank Managing Director & CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Managing Director Venugopal Dhoot in the ICICI Bank-Videocon corruption case.
A CBI official said that after the preliminary inquiry last year, look out circulars had been issued against Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot for all airports across the country. The circulars have been revived now, the official said, along with a Lookout circular (LOC) for the first time against Chanda Kochhar.
A look out circular is issued to keep a check on a traveller who is wanted by the police. It is mostly used in immigration desks at international borders, including airports. Unless the period is stated, look out circulars have a validity of a year as per a notification by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
An FIR was registered last month against Kochhar embroiled in an alleged quid pro quo for extending a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group. Kochhar was a part of the committee that sanctioned the loan to the company. In turn, promoter Venugopal Dhoot was one of the first investors in Deepak Kochhar-promoted NuPower Renewables.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating into possible forex violations. The ED also wants to investigate assets that the couple built and possessed, which includes their South Mumbai apartment.
According to a report in The Economic Times, a senior lawyer said that the LOC was unwarranted in this case and said that Chanda Kochhar cannot be clubbed in the same category as those who have fled the country on charges of economic offences. "She has been a respectable figure in financial circles and none of the charges have been proven to be true. There are a lot of assumptions here," the lawyer said.
This step has come so as the Kochhars and Dhoot stay in India unlike Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi, who all fled the country. Last year, CEOs of public sector banks were empowered to request for issuance of look out circulars against suspects even before enforcement agencies file FIRs against them. After the PNB fraud, the Finance Ministry had asked Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to collect passport details of all the borrowers who had taken loans exceeding Rs 50 crore.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)