Chanda Kochhar has been forced to go on leave as agencies probe her role in the Rs 3,250 crore banking scam involving her husband Deepak Kochhar. The banking giant has appointed Sandeep Bakshi as the new interim chief.
Kochhar will remain on leave pending the completion of a probe into the alleged scam. A report by Reuters said that Bakhshi will report to the bank’s board during the period of Kochhar’s leave and will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions, ICICI Bank said. All the executive directors of the bank and its executive management would report to Bakhshi.
56-year-old Kochhar has been facing serious allegations of misconduct and conflict of interests while favouring Videocon Group. Videocon’s founders had an investment in a renewable energy company founded by Kochhar’s husband.
The matter had first surfaced after a whistle-blower, Arvind Gupta, demanded an appropriate investigation into ‘illicit banking and commercial relationship between Videocon Group of Venugopal Dhoot and ICICI Bank’s MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar’s family owned NuPower Renewable Group steered by her husband Deepak Kochhar.’
In his letter written, among others, to Prime Minister Narendfra Modi, Gupta had accused Kochhars of ‘amassing wrongful personal gains by deceiving stakeholders, shareholders, public / private sector banks and Indian Regulatory Agencies for unjust and illegal enrichment through corrupt banking practices within India and tax heavens by a high level CBI/ED/SFIO/SEBI/the RBI team to ensure healthy private sector Banking.’
You can read the full letter here. Gupta had also informed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about it. ICICI bank has rejected the charges calling it “malicious and unfounded.”
In May this year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had served notices to ICICI bank and the then CEO Chanda Kochhar asking their responses on alleged non-compliance of the “erstwhile ‘Listing Agreement’ and the ‘Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015′”.
Kochhar was also summoned by the anti-fraud agency, SFIO, in a bank fraud case related to over Rs 5,000 crore loan extended to diamond merchant Mehul Choksi.