Former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kocchar, who was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for four consecutive days earlier this month, has reportedly said that she was ignorant about her husband's dealing in defence of herself in the Rs 3,250-crore loan fraud case she is embroiled in. While the ED last week claimed to have evidence against her after establishing a money trail that indicates quid-pro-quo through her husband's company, NuPower Renewables Private Limited, Kochhar has denied any involvement.
According to The Times of India, Kochhar told investigators she "wasn't aware of her husband's business dealings" with Videocon group MD Venugopal Dhoot when six high value loans to the group were approved by the bank. The sources added that when she was questioned about the Rs 64-crore loan given by Videocon group to NuPower Renewables a day after the bank disbursed a Rs 300-crore loan to a Videocon group company, Kochhar said she "didn't discuss her bank-related work with her husband or vice-versa, hence there was no question of taking any favour in lieu of the bank loan".
The CBI, which had booked the disgraced bank chief and her husband, Deepak Kochhar in January, had cited this transaction, among others, as proof that she had abused her official position and had received "illegal gratification". The ED's case is based on this CBI FIR. The agency had also pointed out that between June 2009 and October 2011, ICICI Bank had sanctioned six high-value loans totalling Rs 1,875 crore to various Videocon companies - 84% of which have turned into NPAs.
Kochhar, incidentally, took charge as the chief on May 1, 2009. She reportedly told investigators these loans had been "given on merit and the sanctioning committee of the bank had properly examined the individual request".
The daily added that investigators have further discovered a payment made by Dhoot to Deepak Kochhar's company via Mauritius. A judicial request - or Letter Rogatory - is being sent to the tax haven seeking details about the transaction.
The ED had also questioned the Videocon Group chief Venugopal Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar earlier this month. The latter, too, reportedly told officials that he had no discussion with his wife regarding favouring Dhoot's companies and that the timing of loan transfers from ICICI Bank to Dhoot's firm and from Dhoot to his companies was merely coincidental.
But according to report, Kochhar and her family received kickbacks worth Rs 500 crore in lieu of the loans sanctioned by ICICI Bank. According to sources there is enough evidence to prove the Kochhars' association with Dhoot and efforts are being made to ascertain that ICICI loans and the transactions flagged in the CBI FIR were "linked".
(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal)