Troubles seem to be brewing for a power couple in the Indian corporate industry. Deepak Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of NuPower Renewables and the husband of ICICI bank Managing Director Chanda Kochhar, has been issued a notice by the Income Tax Department over the alleged tax evasion. To probe his financial transactions in the Videocon bank loan case, the department has asked him to furnish all the details regarding personal finances, Income Tax Returns for the past many years, and business transactions with NuPower Renewables.
Earlier in the day, Chanda Kochhar reportedly pulled out of the annual session of FICCI Ladies Organisation - to be held this week - where she was to be felicitated by President Ram Nath Kovind. Not only that, the role of Rajiv Kochhar, financial services company Avista Advisory founder and Chanda Kochhar's brother-in-law (her husband's brother), is also under the scanner. Avista's website also mentions two loan restructuring deals involving the Videocon Group.
The Income Tax Department notice to Deepak Kochhar has been issued under section 131 (power regarding discovery, production of evidence) of the I-T Act. Few more notices have been sent to the people associated with the firm and based on their replies, further action will be taken, they said. In a related development, the CBI officials said that Deepak Kochhar, who has been named in a preliminary enquiry, will be called for questioning soon.
The CBI had questioned a few ICICI bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing a Rs 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012. The deal recently made news after reports questioned the loan and linked it to a possible quid pro quo that Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot allegedly had with NuPower Renewables, a company founded by Deepak Kochchar.
The CBI enquiry had named Dhoot, Deepak Kochhar and unidentified others, officials said. A preliminary inquiry is a precursor before the agency lodges an FIR to probe criminal charges on the basis of evidence collected during the former exercise. Last week, the ICICI Bank board came out in support of Chanda Kochhar, saying it has full faith and confidence in her and described reports against her over the credit disbursement to Videocon group as "malicious and unfounded rumours".
The board had also reviewed the banks internal processes for credit approval and found them robust, the private sector lender had said in a statement. With regard to loans to the Videocon group, the board had said the banks current exposure is part of a syndicated consortium arrangement. "ICICI Bank was not the lead bank for this consortium and the bank only sanctioned its share of facilities aggregating approximately Rs 3,250 crore which was less than 10 per cent of the total consortium facility in April 2012," it added. The bank had clarified that none of the investors of NuPower Renewables are borrowers of ICICI Bank.
With PTI inputs
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