Prepares to grill Deepak and Rajiv Kochhar along with ex-ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar by next week
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is obtaining transactions details of bank accounts held overseas by Deepak Kochhar and his brother Rajiv Kochhar, as the agency prepares to question the brothers along with former CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, by next week.
“We have asked for information from Hong Kong, Singapore and Mauritius specifically about bank accounts operated by the Kochhar brothers and their companies. Once that comes to us, we will come to know about, if any, more cases of bribery,” said a source.
The source added that the agency has also gathered more information about the deals made between the Kochhars and Matix Group owner Nishant Kanodia, and they will be confronted on these lines. Kanodia is the son-in-law of Essar Group chairman Ravi Ruia. Matix Group and its holding company Firsthand Holdings are based in Mauritius.
The agency is probing a money laundering case relating to Rs 3,250-crore ICICI Bank-Videocon loan matter. Along with Kochhars and Kanodia, the ED has also questioned chief of Videocon Group Venugopal Dhoot in March this year.
During the first round, the questioning was mostly around transactions with Videocon companies, and while examining ED stumbled upon deals with Kanodia as well. The summon of the Kochhars and Dhoot, among others, was based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A Chanda Kochhar-headed credit committee had sanctioned the loan to Videocon and the company through its related entities allegedly a day later invested Rs 64 crore in NuPower Renewables promoted by Deepak Kochhar. According to the source, Videocon group companies invested in NuPower and then offloaded the shares to a third company which eventually closed down, leaving the money with NuPower.
It is also alleged that ICICI Bank in 2010-11 sanctioned a loan to the Essar Group as quid pro quo for Kanodia investing around Rs 300 crore in NuPower. It has been observed that while ICICI Bank as the lead banker of a consortium sanctioned a $580-million loan to Essar Steel Minnesota, Kanodia bought compulsorily convertible preference shares in Deepak Kochhar’s firm. Later, the shares were bought back for the same consideration, and Kochhar’s firm got to utilise the money without paying interest.
The ED is looking at the time stamps of the deals to establish criminal intent and will move ahead once the CBI registers a case.