New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Former ICICI Bank CEO and Managing Director Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar have failed to provide satisfactory answers to about 20 out of over 100 key questions posed to them by Enforcement Directorate sleuths during over 60 hours of questioning in five days starting May 13, according to sources in the investigating agency.
The ED is probing the couple in connection with the Rs 1,875-crore Videocon loan case which is related to the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in the sanctioning of the amount disbursed by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group during 2009 and 2011
The agency sources said the couple could not submit “authentic proof” to support their replies against the 20 questions asked to them during their examination at the ED’s headquarters in south Delhi’s Khan market.
The Kochhar couple was grilled for five consecutive days from May 13 during which they were asked to submit documents to prove what they were saying was true and that the charges framed against them in the case were false.
In replies to many questions, the Kochhars provided documents which let the investigators not to raise more doubts on those points, but 20 out of over 100 key questions were answered “ambiguously” by the couple, the sources said.
Most of the questions were based on allegations of a quid-pro-quo deal between Kochhars and the Videocon group as well as irregularities in sanctioning of these loans.
Of the 10 key questions put by the ED to Chanda Kochhar, one was whether she was aware about her husband’s joint venture with Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot when the company’s loan proposal came to the ICICI bank first time in June 2009.
To this, the sources said, she replied in the negative.
The second question was whether the ICICI Bank’s various sanctioning committees, which sanctioned loans to Videocon group companies between June 2009 to October 2011, were aware about Deepak Kochhar-Dhoot connection?
The answer was that she was not aware of the fact, the sources said.
Third question: When did she come to know about her husband’s venture with Videocon?
To this, her answer was not clear, the sources said.
Fourth question: Why did she not complain to the authorities concerned about the venture?
To this too, she has given ambiguous answer, the ED sources said.
Fifth question: Was she aware about Rs 64 crore transferred by Dhoot to M/s NRL, managed by her husband Deepak Kochhar, on the very next day of disbursal of Rs 300 crore sanctioned loan to Videocon International Electronics Ltd on September 7, 2009?
She said no to this question, they said.
Sixth question: Did she know about NRL, which was incorporated on December 24, 2008 and in which her husband, Dhoot and Saurabh Dhoot were directors?
Chanda Kochhar said yes but added that she was not aware about the functioning of the firm, the sources said.
Seventh question: Was the turnover of the five companies – MAIL, SAL, TEL, AIL, and VIL — that are part of the Videocon group, checked before sanctioning of loan which later turned NPA?
She said yes and also sought time to submit documents related to that.
Eighth question: Why, in the first place, did Videocon bring in a company like Evan Fraser, registered as a realty and trading business, to play the role of a guarantor in the Videocon loan?
She could not give a satisfactory answer to this, the sources said.
Ninth question: The ICICI Bank loan to the Videocon Group was classified as an NPA in late 2017. Did the bank approach the 12 co-obligor firms listed by the Videocon group for recovery?
She sought time to submit documents related to that.
Tenth question: What are the reasons that the ICICI Bank Board did not conduct a detailed scrutiny of the Videocon loan, nor did it openly welcome an independent probe by government agencies even at this stage?
She replied that an inquiry was done as per procedure, the sources said.
Deepak Kochhar also mostly faced the questions posed to his wife and some others over his business transactions with Videocon group.
First: Why was Rs 64 crore transferred to his company by Videocon group?
To this, Deepak Kochhar replied that it was to acquire first power plant.
Second: Why did V.N. Dhoot and Saurabh Dhoot resign from directorship of his NRL firm on January 15, 2009?
He said it was their own decision, the sources said.
Third: What was the reason that V.N. Dhoot allotted 1997500 warrants to him at the rate of Rs 10 per warrant, on an initial payment of Rs 1 per warrant, before resigning from NRL group?
Deepak Kochhar said it was part of business dealings.
Fourth: Why were the shares of NRL held by V.N. Dhoot (24999) and his group Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd (24999) transferred to Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL) which became 95 per cent share holder of NRL?
Deepak’s answer was not clear on that, said the sources.
Fifth: Why was the control of SEPL, which was incorporated by V.N. Dhoot on July 3, 2008, given to him in 2009?
Deepak reiterated that it was part of business deal.
Sixth: Did he know that the part of the loan sanctioned to Videocon will be given to him for business purpose?
He said no.
Seventh: Whether V.N. Dhoot had asked him (Deepak) to assist him in sanctioning of loan to Videocon group from ICICI Bank because of his wife’s high position there?
He could not give a satisfactory answer, the sources said.
Eighth: Did he discuss with Chanda Kochhar about sanction of loan to Videocon from ICICI Bank?
His answers were not clear, they said.
Ninth: Was there any deal between Videocon and Chanda Kochhar to sanction such a huge loan amount without proper verification of five firms of the group?
Deepak Kochhar said he was unaware about that, the sources said.
Tenth: Why did he not inform Chanda Kochhar or authorities concerned about the wrongdoings of the loan sanctioned to the Videocon group?
His reply was ambiguous.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])