Enforcement may attach Chanda Kochhar’s properties worth Rs 800 crore
NEW DELHI : Trouble seems to be mounting for former ICICI Bank chief executive officer (CEO) Chanda Kochhar and husband, Deepak Kochhar, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is reportedly contemplating provisional attachment of assets and properties worth Rs 800 crore in connection with an alleged bank loan fraud and money laundering case.
It is worth mentioning that Ms Kochhar was accused of breaching the private sector lender’s norms in granting out-of-turn loans of about Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group, which allegedly benefited her husband, Deepak Kochhar.
The provisionally attached properties include her Mumbai apartment and those belonging to a company owned by her husband, Deepak Kochhar. Speaking shortly after the Enforcement Directorate’s order, Ms Kochhar’s lawyer, Sujay Kantawala, said the agency now had 180 days to prove the purchase of the flat was from “so-called proceeds of crime”.
Enforcement Directorate has to prove the purchase out of so called proceeds of crime and owner has a right to be heard at all stages,” Mr Kantawala said. The assets may include her plush South Mumbai flat, certain shares, and offices of Deepak Kochhar’s companies including Nupower Renewables. The estimated value of the investment is about Rs 100 crore. However, their market value is around Rs 800 crore,
The income tax department investigated the acquisition of the apartment by the Kochhar family in South Mumbai in a complex deal involving companies linked to Videocon Group,
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month told the Bombay high court that it acted as per law and that there was no violation of Chanda Kochhar’s fundamental rights by its approval of her termination from the lender.
Kochhar’s lawyers, however, mentioned out that the sacking notice came months after the bank had already accepted her voluntary resignation on October 4, 2018, and therefore the termination was illegal. The matter will be next heard on January 13.
The probe agency had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) early last year against Chanda Kochhar, her husband and Venugopal Dhoot of the Videocon Group to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in the sanctioning of Rs 1,875 crore in loans by ICICI Bank.
It is also probing at least two other instances of loans given by ICICI Bank (during Ms Kochhar’s tenure) to Gujarat-based pharmaceutical firm Sterling Biotech and to Bhushan Steel Group; both these are also being probed on alleged money laundering charges.
The Enforcement Directorate case is based on a complaint registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is running an independent investigation; it too had named all three individuals and added three companies, including two under the Videocon name, owned by Mr Dhoot’s companies.(Bureau Report with Agency Inputs ).