An elaborate statement by ICICI Bank Chairman M.K. Sharma defending the embattled MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar against allegations of conflict of interest has not left observers any wiser. The statement detailed how robust the bank's credit appraisal process is but failed to address the key issue of conflict of interest between ICICI Bank's loans to the Videocon group companies and Videocon promoter family Dhoots' relationship and transactions with Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar and her family.
The controversy pertains to two loans (Rs 3,250 crore and Rs 660 crore) extended by ICICI to Videocon companies and coincidentally, Deepak Kochhar's company NuPower Renewables receiving an amount equivalent to 10 per cent of funding (Rs 325 crore and Rs 64 crore, respectively), as noted by whistleblower and investor Arvind Gupta. Later, in a hurried conference where Sharma read out the release again, he mentioned that adequate disclosures were made. He, however, refused to say whom those disclosures were made to. It is ICICI's inability to answer these issues satisfactorily that makes it a highly questionable transaction.