The Income Tax department have reportedly launched a probe into the sale of Mumbai’s posh Radhika Apartments, earlier used as the staff accommodation for ICICI Bank employees, to Venugopal Dhoot-promoted Videocon Group in 2010.
The investigation is a part of the IT department’s larger probe into the much-publicised Rs 3,250 crore scam involving the former CEO of ICICI, Chanda Kochhar, and her husband Deepak Kochhar.
A report by the Indian Express said that Radhika Apartments, located in the heart of Mumbai, was allegedly sold to Videocon at Rs 17,000 per sq ft for Rs 61 crore. The market price, the IE report added, at the time of the reported sale was Rs 25,000 per sq ft.
The Videocon had bought the building consisting 27 flats to house the employees of its telecom venture that the company launched in the city the same year.
What’s Rs 3,250 crore ICICI Scam?
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 Narendra 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.’
According to the complaint, Dhoot provided Rs 64 crore to Chanda Kochhar’s husband Rs 64 crore in 2010 through a fully-owned entity to NRPL, which he had set up with Deepak Kochhar and two of his relatives. Dhoot then allegedly transferred proprietorship of the company to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for Rs 9 lakh, six months after he received the loan of Rs 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank.
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.
Kochhar sent on leave
In June this year, Chanda Kochhar was forced to go on leave as agencies probed her role in the Rs 3,250 crore banking scam involving her husband Deepak Kochhar. The banking giant appointed Sandeep Bakshi as the new interim chief.
It was announced that Kochhar will remain on leave pending the completion of a probe into the alleged scam. A report by Reuters had 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.
In June, Indian Express had reported that Income Tax department was probing the acquisition of the current family residence of Chanda Kochhar at 45, CCI Chambers CHS Ltd, in South Mumbai by her husband Deepak Kochhar in a complex transaction involving firms linked to Videocon Group.