New Delhi, Mar 31: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday interrogated nodal officers of ICICI Bank as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing a Rs 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012. The CBI officials were reportedly studying relevant documents of the transaction and if they came across any evidence that indicated wrongdoing, ICICI bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, and her husband Deepak Kochhar, along with others, could be called for detailed questioning.
Speaking to PTI, CBI officials said that the statements of nodal officers of the ICICI, who were part of processing the loan of about Rs 3,250 crore, have been recorded as part of the PE registered six weeks back. “The PE has named Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot, Deepak Kochhar and unknown others,” officials said.
A PE is a precursor before the agency lodges an FIR to probe criminal charges on the basis of evidence collected during the former exercise.
The deal recently made news after reports questioned the loan and linked it to a possible quid pro quo that Dhoot allegedly had with NuPower Renewables, a company founded by Deepak Kochchar.
Earlier this week, the ICICI Bank board gave a clean chit to Chanda Kochhar and dismissed the allegation of favouritism in lending loans to Videocon Industries. The bank said it had full faith and confidence in Chanda Kochhar, describing certain reports against her regarding credit disbursement to Videocon group as “malicious and unfounded rumours”.
About the Videocon-ICICI controversy:
Media reports suggested that ICICI Bank had granted a loan worth Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon. However, concerns were flagged about the payment of the loan, as almost 86 per cent of it (Rs 2,810 crore) still remaineds unpaid, and the Videocon account was declared a Non-Performing Asset (NPA) in 2017.
The controversy comes amid a number of banking scams that have been unearthed in the public sector bank space, particularly the multi-billion-dollar Punjab National Bank scam involving celebrated jeweller Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Group owner Mehul Choksi.
(With inputs from agencies)