The arrest of Deepak Kochhar
Deepak Kochhar, businessman and husband of former CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar, has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged money laundering in a deal between the bank and Videocon Group.
Officials said Deepak Kochhar was arrested in Mumbai after he was called for questioning on Monday and will be produced in a court on Tuesday morning.
The ED arrested him suspecting connection with its money laundering probe, people familiar with the development said.
CBI accusations against Deepak Kochhar
The CBI has accused the former bank CEO of allegedly receiving “illegal gratification” through her husband from Videocon and sanctioning a term loan.
The Kochhars and others related to the case had denied the allegations.
The agency had filed a criminal case against Kochhar, her husband, and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) last year, to investigate alleged abnormalities and corrupt practices in sanctioning Rs 1,875 crores of loan by ICICI Bank.
Chanda Kochhar had stepped down from her position in ICICI Bank on October 4, 2018, after allegations of irregularities surfaced against her.
The CBI is also investigating Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar on the same grounds of allegations.
In its FIR registered in January last year, CBI had alleged that six high value loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were transferred by ICICI Bank to Videocon group of companies between 2009 and 2011.
It has also been alleged that a payment of Rs 64 crore was issued to a company owned by Deepak Kocchar – NuPower Renewables by Videocon in 2009, which was a quid pro quo from Dhoot for a loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon.
While discovering properties worth Rs 78.15 crore belonging to Kochhars in January this year, ED had said, “An amount of Rs 64 crore, out of the loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned by a committee headed by Chanda Kochhar to Videocon International Electronics Limited, was transferred to M/s Nupower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL, earlier known as M/s NuPower Renewables Limited, a company of Deepak Kochhar, husband of Chanda Kochhar) by VIL on September 8, 2009, just one day after disbursement of loan by ICICI Bank”.
“Further, net revenue of Rs. 10.65 crore was generated by NRL from these tainted funds,” it added.
The agency also termed the flat at CCI Chambers, Churchgate where Chanda Kochhar lives, as an “illegal gain”, although she has been living there since 1997. It was owned by a Videocon entity – QTAPL (Quality Appliances Pvt Ltd) from 2009 till 2016.
“It is noticed that Chanda Kochhar and Venugopal N Dhoot are known to each other whereas family members of Chanda Kochhar are having joint holding in certain companies with the persons of Videocon group viz in NRPL (NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd) and SEPL (Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd). The nexus is evident from the changes in the shareholding patterns in the specified companies into and amongst such persons under a design and plan,” said an ED report in possession of Hindustan Times.
The agency added that these suspected transfers of funds and changes in the companies have taken place both at the “corporate level” and at the “individual level”.
However, in an investigation report filed in a Delhi court, as first reported by HT in April 2019, ED had claimed that it was investigating a total of 24 loans aggregating Rs 7,862 crore that were given by the bank to Videocon Group between 2009 and 2018.
Both the agencies decided to look at quid-pro-quos between Videocon Group chief Venugopal Dhoot and Kochhars after it emerged that the former was an investor in Kochhar’s husband, Deepak Kochhar’s company.
Deepak Kochhar’s arrest is the first in the series of multi-agency investigations launched against his wife in January last year for decisions imposed by her as the head of a private bank in sanctioning loans to the Videocon Group in lieu of bribes allegedly paid in their companies.