After a clean chit to then MD&CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar in March last year, here comes the shocker! She is guilty. She is guilty of violating the bank's code of conduct. These are the findings of the B N Srikrishna enquiry on the allegations against Chanda Kochhar. Eight months after the board set up an independent enquiry, the report has finally concluded that the then MD & CEO Kochhar was in violation of the bank's code of conduct, its framework for dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties.
In a board meeting here today, the board had decided to treat the separation of Kochhar from the bank last year as a 'termination of cause' and she is stripped off from the bonuses and other pending entitlements. However, the finding of the Srikrishna contradicts the bank board's clean chit to Kochhar. Let's take a look:
- The board had then reviewed the bank's internal processes for credit approval and found them to be robust. It then expressed and reposed full faith and confidence in Kochhar. The board then also concluded that there is no question of any quid pro quo, nepotism or conflict of interest as is being alleged in various rumours. Did the board was under any pressure to give her a clean chit? What kind of checks and balances the board employed then and who all in the senior management was involved in verifying the rules and regulations?
- With regard to bank's current exposure to Videocon Group, the board had recorded then that the committee for approving Videocon loan was chaired by the then Chairman of the bank and it included independent and working directors of the bank. "It is important to note that Kochhar was not the chairperson of this committee," it then said. So, why suddenly the board is singing a different tune now?
- The board at that time noted that "the bank has a well structured and standardised credit approval process, where multiple independent departments are involved in providing independent credit risk rating, doing credit appraisal, credit approvals and monitoring the proposals. It said that given this architecture, no individual employee, whatever may be his or her position, has the ability to influence the credit decision at the bank.
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