The Enforcement Directorate has taken into custody Deepak Kochhar, husband of former MD and CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar, till September 19. Deepak Kochhar was produced before the special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court earlier in the day. Kochhar was arrested late on Monday.
The ED had sought a 14-day custody of Kochhar which was opposed by his lawyer. “The arrest is illegal as my client has been cooperating in the investigation. The offence is punishable for imprisonment up to 7 years only. So, he cannot be arrested like this when he joined investigation on summons”, his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said.
A preliminary enquiry was initiated by the CBI against Deepak Kochhar in 2017 after which an FIR was filed by the CBI last year in relation to the ICICI Bank-Videocon case. Based on the case registered by the CBI, the ED had initiated an investigation in the matter. The CBI had initiated an inquiry against the Kochhars after allegations were made that ICICI Bank had sanctioned credit facility worth over Rs 3 thousand crores to various entities against the rules.
Background of the case against Deepak Kochhar
An investigative report by Indian Express had revealed that in December 2008, a joint venture, NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd, was set up by Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Ltd. 50% of the shares were held by Dhoot through his family members and the rest of the 50% were held by Kochhar and his family members. In 2010, Dhoot resigned as director of NuPower and transferred his shares to Kochhar. Thereafter, Dhoot issued the company an amount of 64 crores as loan through one of his fully-owned entities. And then he transferred the ownership of the joint venture to a trust headed by Kochhar at Rs 9 lakhs only. This transfer of ownership took place 6 months after a loan of Rs 3,250 crore was issued to the Videocon Group by the ICICI Bank. It was declared NPA in 2017 after almost 86% of the loan remained unpaid.