ICICI-Videocon case: Chanda did not know about NuPower tie up with Dhoot, says Deepak Kochhar
Rajeev Dubey April 6, 2018
Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar , has revealed Chanda was not aware of his 50:50 tie-up with Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot and other members of the Dhoot family to form NuPower Renewables in late 2008. He told her when Dhoots resigned from the board after 22 days. "Chanda did not know when I set up NuPower. I knew Dhoot through social circles. I told her when Dhoot exited," Deepak told India Today TV.
He counters the apparent conflict of interest, saying: "Where is the conflict of interest? ICICI Bank will have relationship with all top corporate in India. If I can't touch any corporate who deals with ICICI, is it fair to me? Can I function like this? I am a Bajaj MBA and a Harvard Alumni. I am an educated professional. Should I sit at home just because my wife is the CEO of ICICI?"
He said Dhoots resigned because they got busy with their new businesses in oil and gas, and telecom.
Kochhars are under lens since whistleblower Virendra Gupta's disclosures in 2016 regarding the Rs 3,250 crore plus Rs 660 crore loans and alleged quid pro quo in the form of an identical 10 per cent foreign funding (Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore) in Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar's company NuPower Renewables. Deepak Kochhar and Videocon promoters Dhoots had together set up a 50:50 JV NuPower Renewables in 2008. These revelations led to allegations of propriety and conflict interest.
Deepak denied any quid pro quo, saying: "There is no quid pro quo. 10 per cent is nonsense." He says allegations are ruining Chanda's 30 year career and the family's reputation. "I knew Dhoots had a pilot project of 5-7 MW solar plant. I said you have experience of renewable. I invited him to join as director. He put in Rs 2.50 lakh, I put in Rs 2.50 lakh. He exited within 22 days," says Deepak.
He also revealed that investigative agencies have so far not asked either Chanda or him to appear for questioning. "I will have to give all documents to investigative agencies when they ask. I will. I have not been asked yet for questioning. Chanda has not been asked yet for questioning," he said.
Regarding the foreign funding being routed through an obscure Mauritius-based company DH Renewables, Deepak said: "Investments are by foreign funds which duly followed RBI KYC procedure. DH Renewables is owned by foreign funds. Directors are all foreigners. Their KYC is with RBI. I cannot talk about that. DH Renewables was set up by Accion, not me. I was never approached by Dhoots for investment via DH Renewables. I have no connection with DH Renewables. Dhoots have no connection with DH Renewables."
He says investment came in 3-4 tranches between July 2010 and Sept 2011, well before ICICI approved the Videocon loan in April 2012.
"Overseas funding into DH Renewables came from private funds Accion and Firstland as convertible preference shares. Dhoots being investors is a No-No. Show me the documents," he said.
Earlier, the board of directors of ICICI Bank decided to back MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar against allegations of quid pro quo in the ICICI-Videocon deal on the basis of an internal evaluation carried out by chairman MK Sharma, according to sources in the know. No third party or external consultancy, accounting or forensics firm was hired to present its findings before the board.
Sharma's findings put before the short notice board meeting on March 28 were the same that he had conducted in 2016. It is believed that at that time Sharma had evaluated the bank's credit evaluation process right.
As a result, the board reposed full faith and confidence in MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar. "...the board has come to the conclusion that there is no question of any quid pro quo/nepotism/conflict of interest as is being alleged in various rumours. The Board has full confidence and reposes full faith in the Bank's MD & CEO Ms Chanda Kochhar. The Board also recommends the entire management team under the leadership of the MD & CEO for their hard work and dedication. We would urge you not to be misled by these rumours whch are being spread to malign the Bank and its top management," a statement from the Board of directors said.