27 Jan 2019
ICICI Bank fraud: CBI investigator transferred; govt denies meddling
Interestingly, two days later Union minister Arun Jaitley suggested that the bookings were "investigative adventurism" - a sentiment that was echoed by other senior ministers.
However, the government has dismissed suggestions of meddling.
Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, the investigating officer, was promptly transferred
The officer in question is SP Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra.
Mishra, who was part of the Banking and Securities Fraud Cell (BSFC) of the CBI, was investigating the case, and on January 22 had signed the FIR booking Chanda Kochhar.
A day later, he was transferred to the Economic Offences Branch of the CBI in Ranchi.
Jaitley's comment was supported by Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman
Following Mishra's transfer, Jaitley called the FIR "investigative adventurism" and a "journey to nowhere".
Subsequently, the Congress accused the ruling government of pressurizing the CBI and signalling it to "go slow" in the investigations into the Kochhars.
What the government had to say about the comments
However, now, the government has dismissed the claims.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, government officials, on the condition of anonymity, said that Jaitley's comments were nothing but "elderly advice", and that the Union minister had made a "valid argument".
The official added that the government "had nothing to do with the case" and that it was "the CBI's decision".
Some CBI officers also supported Jaitley
Some former CBI officers, too, agreed with Jaitley's criticism of the FIR, saying that naming so many top officials in an FIR when they had not been arraigned as accused was a step too far.
A former CBI Director also said that the CBI only names those against whom there's evidence, and persons who are under suspicion are referred to as 'unknown others'.
The case involving the Kochhars and Videocon
For those unaware, ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar came under regulatory scrutiny after the Indian Express reported in March 2018 that Dhoot had pumped in crores of rupees to a company, NuPower Renewables, that he had formed with Deepak Kochhar and two relatives.
The fund infusion had come just six months after ICICI Bank gave the Videocon Group a Rs. 3,250cr loan in 2012.
Kochhar had been accused of abusing her position of power
This instance apart, it has been alleged that Kochhar had, on multiple occasions, abused her position of power in the ICICI Bank to unfairly grant loans to her husband's company.
In several cases, it has been alleged that ICICI Bank would grant loans to companies in the Videocon Group, and those companies would then invest in NuPower Renewables.
Congress calls Jaitley out for "double standards"
"His [Jaitley's] statement is extraordinary...It also smacks of double standards...He called Vodafone (case) tax terrorism and then did exactly the same thing in regard to Cairn. He calls ICICI case investigative adventurism yet does exactly the same in regard to his predecessor," said Congress MP Jairam Ramesh.