The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against former CEO and MD of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, her husband, Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Group founder, Venugopal Dhoot, in a ₹3,250 crore loan fraud case.
The agency has charged them under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, among others. The CBI has named nine entities, including companies and individuals.
Mandatory Requirement for Sanction Awaited
The CBI has moved to file its final report before a special court in Mumbai without the mandatory requirement of sanction to prosecute Chanda Kochhar from ICICI Bank. A letter had been sent to the bank seeking the sanction, but its response is awaited. Generally, the special court waits for the sanction before proceeding with taking cognizance of the chargesheet and subsequently initiating the trial, if warranted. The special CBI court is yet to take cognizance of the chargesheet.
Denial of Sanction to Prosecute
In the case of denial of sanction to prosecute, the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act will not apply. The agency arrested the Kochhars and Dhoot in December last year. Opposing the CBI’s plea for remand, senior advocate Amit Desai, appearing for the Kochhars, had brought to the court’s notice a letter ICICI Bank wrote to the CBI in July 2021, stating that it incurred no wrongful loss in any of the transactions under question.
Bail Granted on Grounds of Casual and Perfunctory Arrest
The Bombay High Court had granted the couple bail on January 9, underlining that the CBI’s move to arrest them was “casual, mechanical and perfunctory and clearly without application of mind.” The HC had noted that in the present case, the grounds of arrest are merely stated as non-cooperation and not giving full and correct disclosure. “The reason given in the arrest memos to arrest the petitioners, having regard to the facts as stated aforesaid, appears to us, to be casual, mechanical, and perfunctory, clearly without application of mind,” the court had observed. The bench held that the arrest of the Kochhars was in violation of Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which mandates sending notice for an appearance before the police officer concerned.
Accusations against Kochhars and Dhoot
The CBI’s FIR names the Kochhars and Dhoot along with Nupower Renewables (NRL) managed by Deepak Kochhar, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Limited, and Videocon Industries Limited as accused. The agency has alleged that ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of ₹3,250 crore to the companies of the Videocon Group promoted by Dhoot in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines, and the credit policy of the bank. It also alleged that as a part of a quid pro quo, Dhoot made an investment of ₹64 crore in Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Private Limited (SEPL) and transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust managed by Deepak Kochhar through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.