Friday, April 12, 2024
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On Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of the Videocon Group, in Mumbai in connection with alleged fraud and irregularities in loans issued by ICICI Bank to companies within the Videocon Group. The arrest follows the detainment of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar on Friday, who are accused of cheating the bank out of INR 1,730 crore (approximately $236 million) until March 2012.

The ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar have been under investigation by regulatory authorities since March 2018, when The Indian Express reported that Venugopal Dhoot had provided large sums of money to a company he had established with Deepak Kochhar and two other individuals six months after his own company received a INR 3,250 crore ($450 million) loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.

In 2019, the CBI filed a First Information Report against the Kochhars, Dhoot, and companies including Nupower Renewables and Videocon Industries for allegedly defrauding ICICI Bank of INR 1,730 crore. The FIR also named Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL), and unknown public servants as accused parties and alleged that Chanda Kochhar “sanctioned certain loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with other accused to cheat ICICI Bank” in violation of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the CBI, the INR 1,730 crore was part of a INR 40,000 crore ($5.6 billion) loan that the Videocon Group secured from a consortium of 20 banks led by the State Bank of India. Of the INR 3,250 crore loan, approximately INR 2,810 crore ($390 million) remains unpaid and the Videocon account was declared a non-performing asset in 2017.

The CBI stated that on August 26, 2009, the sanctioning committee at ICICI Bank, including Chanda Kochhar, approved a INR 300 crore ($42 million) loan to VIEL “in contravention of the rules and policy”. Chanda Kochhar is accused of “dishonestly” abusing her position as CEO to disburse the loan on September 7, 2008, and the following day, Nupower Renewables, a company owned by her husband, received INR 64 crore ($8.9 million) from Videocon Industries Ltd (VIL) to purchase its first power plant. The CBI alleges that Chanda Kochhar received “illegal gratification/undue benefit” through her husband from Dhoot in exchange for the INR 300 crore loan to VIEL.

Additionally, the CBI claims that INR term loans issued to five companies within the Videocon Group between June 2009 and October 2011 were “in violation of the credit policy of the bank”.

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