Of India’s most famous female executives, Chanda Kochhar seems to be making news in every knook and corner of India. She has been asked to step down from her post of CEO and also give back all the taxes which were charged during her tenure.
Amidst The Controversial Chain
Under a tight scrutiny since March 2018, Kochhar has been charged under a frodulent case of her own company ICICI bank. The allegations of conflicts of interest and possible quid pro quo in lending to Videocon group, along with lack of disclosures by the bank, made headlines.
Following reports of allegations made by an activist over Kochhar’s misconduct, the bank board primarily had stood out in strong support of their 3 decade old employee. Complicating the matters for her, the bank received another complaint against Kochhar by an internal whistle-blower, who made allegations of not following the bank’s code of conduct, late May. Due to this, the bank was ordered to make detailed probe by an external expert into the allegations. Retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna was asked to intervene in this matter and head the panel. The primary set of allegations made by the whistle blower against Kochhar pertains to alleged impropriety while lending to the cash-strapped Videocon Group and companies associated with the Ruia family, the promoters of beleaguered Essar Group. Finally the accused has been charged as guilty by Srikrishna.
The case stems when Kochhar and his husband gave loan to the Videocon group’s head of Rs 3,250 crore. ICICI Bank and Videocon Group investor Arvind Gupta had red-flagged the bank’s lending practices and had accused Kochhar of favouring the Dhoots; in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 15, 2016. According to the company registrar’s filing, the accused’s husband Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot had set up a joint venture NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) in December 2008. Dhoot, his family members and associates held 50 per cent stake in NRPL with the remaining shares owned by Deepak Kochhar and Pacific Capital, which was owned by his family.
An year later, Dhoot had resigned as NRPL director and transferred his around 25,000 shares to Deepak Kochha and in March 2010, NRPL had secured a loan of Rs 64 crore from a company called Supreme Energy Private Limited, which was owned by Dhoot. Towards the end of March 2010, Supreme Energy took majority control of NRPL with Deepak Kochhar retaining only 5 per cent. Almost eight months later, Dhoot transferred his entire holding in Supreme Energy to his associate Mahesh Chandra Punglia. Around two years later, Punglia transferred his entire stake in Supreme Energy to Deepak Kochhar’s Pinnacle Energy for Rs 9 lakh.
Now the questions which poised the whole controversy was that, “What aroused Gupta’s suspicions was a flow of foreign funds to NRPL around the same time?” ICICI Bank was recorded of lending close to Rs 4,000 crore to the Videocon Group between 2010 and 2012, and DH Renewables pumped Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore into NRPL. On the contrary, ICICI has denied a quid pro quo. Also, Deepak Kochchar rejected allegations of share transfers to NRP.
‘Nation wants to Know’
After having proved her guilty by ex-supreme court judge, who are of the view that she will be penalised for her criminal act? Well, in a country like India where terrorists like Ajmal Kasab are kept in custody for over 5 years with, can we expect a speedy trial in court, or the big shots will drag it to the extend that the case will run for over eternity? The view of the scenario seems favourable and people think that the ball is in the court of the accused. Now, that she has merged hands with no small firm behind this scam, it’s pretty evident that the case will be stretched. Now, if the probes exonerate Chanda Kochhar, its very likely that she will definitely use it to her advantage and play a turncoat against her current setback into a comeback. As of now there has been no final judgement passed on this case and all we can do is pray that her penalisation is fast filed in court.
Until then the court stands Adjourned!