Former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has been granted bail – on a bond of Rs 5 lakh – by a Mumbai court in connection with an alleged money laundering case involving the bank and the Videocon Group.
Ms Kochhar, whose husband Deepak Kochhar was arrested in September last year in connection with the same case and is still in jail, also cannot leave country without the court’s permission.
In February 2019 the Enforcement Directorate filed a criminal case with money laundering charges against Ms Kochhar, Mr Kochhar and the Videocon Group’s Venugopal Dhoot, to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in the sanctioning of Rs 1,875 crore in loans by ICICI Bank.
The ED is simultaneously also probing at least two other loans given by ICICI Bank during Ms Kochhar’s tenure – to Gujarat-based pharma firm Sterling Biotech and the Bhushan Steel Group.
The central agency’s case is based on a complaint registered by the CBI, which is running an independent investigation into the above three individuals and three more companies, including two under the Videocon name and owned by Mr Dhoot’s companies.
The CBI has alleged Mr Dhoot invested in NuPower through another company – Supreme Energy – in a quid pro quo deal via loans cleared by ICICI after Ms Kochhar took over as CEO in May 2009.
Ms Kochhar was sacked in 2019, months after she stepped down from the posts. Both she and her husband deny all charges against them.
In December last year the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against her sacking. “… not inclined to interfere in impugned order. This falls within the realm of private contract…” the court said.
In January the ED temporarily attached Rs 78 crore worth of properties belonging to Ms Kochhar. The provisionally attached properties included her Mumbai apartment and those belonging to a company owned by Mr Kochhar.
In its preliminary investigations, the CBI found six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned between June 2009 and October 2011, in alleged violation of established policies, and declared as non-performing assets in 2012; this caused a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank, the CBI alleged.