The ICICI Bank board is planning the way ahead for Chanda Kochhar, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the private sector lender, in the wake of a Rs 3,250-crore alleged loan scam involving her husband, Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon group's Venugopal Dhoot. Following the Videocon loan case, the board had met on March 28 and April 2, but a few directors were not present in the meetings and the agenda wasn't shared with stock exchanges.
The board is expected to meet informally even though the bank has said there is no board meeting planned for the week, according to The Economic Times.
The Economic Times quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying: "Since the board's first declaration about 10 days ago that it has faith in Chanda Kochhar, a lot has happened. There is some discussion about lookout circulars issued against some in the Kochhar family, there is a new member on the board, too - all these developments have to be discussed."
The board of India's second-largest private sector bank has 12 members, of which, six are independent directors. The bank's chairman and Life Insurance Corporation of India's head, which owns a 9.4 per cent stake, are also part of the board. Besides, a government nominee and five executive directors from ICICI are also part of the board.
Kochhar's current tenure will end on March 31, 2019. She has served the bank for more than two decades and had joined the Board of Directors in 2001.
The bank had earlier issued a statement expressing full faith in Chanda Kochhar. ICICI Bank Chairman M K Sharma had said that there was no question of any quid pro quo, nepotism or conflict of interest, and had expressed "full faith and confidence" in Kochhar, according to the bank's March 28 filing. It had also said that the board had reviewed the credit approval processes and found them to be robust.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has started a preliminary inquiry into the business dealings between Videocon's Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar.
Refuting the charges that board members want Kochhar to step down, an ICICI spokesperson said via email: "Your information is totally baseless and incorrect."
New Board member
The government appointed Lok Ranjan, joint secretary in the department of financial services, as the new nominee on the bank's board from April 5. He will be replacing Amit Agrawal.
"Joint secretary of ministry of finance Lok Ranjan, whose portfolio is inclusive banking, will be part of the board now," an ICICI official said.
Though the bank officials said the reshuffling is a regular process, sources quoted by news reports said the government was "not comfortable with the developments in the bank".
Bank sources said that the board has not asked Kochhar to quit.
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