Chanda Kochhar probe extends to US, SEC now investigating case
The probe against ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and her family's allegedly illegal business dealings with the Videocon group is going international. PTI reports the US' SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is actively looking into the matter as ICICI is also listed in the country. Besides, Indian agencies are considering contacting their overseas counterparts, including in Mauritius, in their own probes too.
Why is Kochhar being probed?
In March, reports emerged that relatives of Kochhar and Videocon's Venugopal Dhoot were allegedly involved in several illegal transactions since 2001. Apparently, Venugopal gave Deepak, Chanda's husband, a lucrative business deal in exchange for a Rs. 3,250 crore loan he got from ICICI Bank in 2012, among other illegalities. Videocon also allegedly pumped money into NuPower Renewables, owned by Deepak, in lieu of benefits.
Alleged links with the Essar Group
Whistleblower Arvind Gupta then alleged that the Essar Group and its founders got unjustified favors from ICICI for "round-tripping" investments into NuPower. NuPower apparently got investments of up to Rs. 325cr from Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings, a firm owned by Nishant Kanodia, son-in-law of Essar co-founder Ravi Ruia.
Case being probed by several agencies in India
Currently, the matter is being probed by the CBI, which has already registered a preliminary enquiry against Deepak, among others. In April, the Bureau extensively questioned Chanda's brother-in-law Rajiv. SEBI has served her a notice over the alleged illegal dealings between ICICI with Videocon and NuPower. Banking regulator RBI and the corporate affairs ministry are also looking into it.
ICICI launches own internal probe
Meanwhile, the ICICI board has ordered a fresh probe against Chanda in the case. The investigation is expected to be headed by a retired judge, who will be assisted by a law firm and a forensic investigator. Major firms like Deloitte, PwC, EY, Alvarez & Marshal, etc. have offered to do a forensic audit. However, a decision hasn't been taken yet.
SEC apparently planning to seek information from Indian agencies
Sources now say the SEC is considering seeking information from SEBI in the case. However, neither the Commission nor ICICI Bank has offered any statement yet. The development isn't positive for Chanda, who has, till now, maintained innocence in the allegations against her.