CBI books V.N. Dhoot, Chanda Kochhar; raids in Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case

Mumbai (IANS): In a significant development, the CBI on Thursday lodged an FIR against ex-ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar and industrialist V.N. Dhoot besides four companies, and raided four locations in Maharashtra in connection with a Rs 3,250 crore loan involving the Videocon Group and ICICI Bank, informed sources said here.

The raids were conducted shortly after the Central Bureau of Investigation registered an FIR naming former ICICI Bank Managing Director-cum-CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband and NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd Managing Director Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group Managing director Dhoot in the case dating back to 2012.

Besides, four companies have been named in the CBI FIR: NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd, Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd.

The FIR has booked them under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act as the accused allegedly "sanctioned loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with other accused to cheat ICICI Bank".

The FIR comes in the wake of a preliminary enquiry (PE) lodged on March 31, 2018, against Deepak Kochhar, Videocon group officials and others to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved in the sanctioning of the loan by the ICICI Bank as part of a consortium, a senior CBI official said.

The raids were carried out simultaneously at the offices of the four (aforementioned) companies in south Mumbai and one location belonging to Videocon in Aurangabad.

The CBI official said that a PE is conducted to ascertain if there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing for a case to be taken up for detailed investigation.

If the evidence suggests that a cognizable offence has been committed, then this is converted into a regular full-fledged FIR.

The Bureau initiated the PE after news reports raised questions about Videocon's Dhoot allegedly providing crores to a firm promoted by Deepak Kochhar and a few relatives six months after the former's group received the Rs 3,250 crore loan.

The said amount was part of a Rs 40,000 crore loan which Videocon got from a consortium of 20 banks led by the State Bank of India.

Following the controversy over the alleged "conflict of interests" and "non-disclosure" in the loans sanctioned by ICICI, Chanda Kochhar, 56, quit her post seeking premature retirement on October 4, 2018.

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