ICICI Bank denies claims of Chanda Kochhar’s ‘indefinite leave’, official says ‘planned leave’

Earlier today media reports claimed that ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has been asked to go on a leave till a probe ordered against her by the bank board is completed. However, ICICI Bank officials have reportedly denied it and stated that her leave was planned. They also claimed that they are not looking for her successor as of now.

A probe was ordered on Kochhar after fresh claims of ‘quid pro quo’ dealings with the Videocon Group emerged when a whistleblower claimed she had violated rules on the code of conduct and ‘conflicts of interest’ norms. As per reports, the ICICI Bank has stated that the inquiry on Kochhar will be overseen by the bank’s audit committee and will be led by an independent person, most likely a retired Supreme Court Judge. The bank officials have also reportedly stated that the inquiry will begin next week and will be completed within two months. A law firm and a forensic auditor also are expected to be roped in.

Chanda Kochhar has been under the scanner since news emerged that the CBI has started a preliminary enquiry against her husband Deepak Kochhar has been involved in quid pro quo business dealings with Venugopal Dhoot, the promoter of Videocon Group. Though Chanda was not named as a suspect in the initial investigation, it was alleged that the Videocon Group was given a loan of Rs 3,250 crores from the ICICI Bank under Chanda Kochhar’s approval and six months later, Venugopal Dhoot had set up a joint venture with Deepak Kochhar. The Joint Venture, indirectly funded and financed by Dhoot, was named NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd. After a series of transactions and questionable transfers of shares came to be owned by Deepak Kochhar, his father and Chanda’s brother’s wife.

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It is notable that almost 86% of the 3250 crores loan remains unpaid and was declared NPA in 2017. Both Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot have been banned from foreign travel by authorities by issuing a Look out Circular. Deepak Kochhar and the family members involved with financial dealings of NuPower Renewables have been questioned several times by the CBI.

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