A special PMLA court in Mumbai has held that the material submitted by the Enforcement Directorate is sufficient to proceed with a trial for money laundering in the multi-crore scam under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, against the former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and others.
Additional Sessions Judge Abhijeet Nandgaonkar while taking cognizance of the investigation complaint filed by the ED, observed that Chanda Kochhar had prima facie misused her official position in granting loans to the accused Videocon group of companies and received illegal gratification, through her husband Deepak Kochhar.
“After going through the submissions, written complaints, and statements recorded under PMLA, it appears that, accused Ms. Chanda Kochhar had misused her official position in granting the loan to accused Mr. V.N. Dhoot and/or Videocon group companies and got illegal gratification/undue advantage through her husband accused Mr. Deepak Kochhar, per-se quid-pro-quo web-transactions, created by the accused persons through various companies for siphoning off money and proceeds of crime,” stated the judge.
The material produced by the ED constitutes the commission of the offense, and it is ‘sufficient to proceed against the accused persons,’ added the court.
All the accused have been asked to appear before the court on February 12.
Further, the court granted leave to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to continue with their ongoing investigation and take any further action in accordance with the law.
The ED had arrested Deepak Kochhar in September 2020 after it filed a criminal case for money laundering based on an FIR registered by the CBI against the Kochhars, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and others.
Earlier on January 30, the special court has under section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act summoned Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Venugopal Dhoot, and other accused, after taking cognizance of the ED’s charge sheet.
The ED alleged that Rs 64 crore out of a loan amount of Rs 300 crore sanctioned by a committee of ICICI Bank headed by Chanda Kochhar to Videocon International Electronics Limited, was transferred to NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) by Videocon Industries on 8 September 2009, a day after the disbursement of the loan.
The ED in their complaint has stated that “These loans were later termed as non-performing assets resulting in wrongful loss to ICICI bank and wrongful gain to the borrowers and accused persons.” Further, it added that the total misappropriation is to the tune of Rs 1,730 as of 26 April 2012.
Further, ED’s investigation states that on 9 September 2009, when the first loan amount of Rs 300 crores was disbursed to Videocon, on the very next day V.N. Dhoot transferred an amount of Rs 64 crores to NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) managed by Kochhar’s husband, Deepak, through his company SEPL.
The agency has alleged that NRPL was incorporated on 24 December 2008 with Deepak Kochhar, V.N. Dhoot, and Saurabha Dhoot as its first directors. Before resigning from the company, a year later, Dhoot allotted 19,97,500 warrants to Deepak Kochhar at the rate of Rs.10/- per warrant, on an initial payment of Rs.1/- per warrant.
Subsequently, on 6 June 2009 shares of NRPL held by Dhoot and Kochhar were transferred to SEPL, which became 95% shareholder of NRPL.
It is pertinent to note that SEPL was another company incorporated with Dhoot as its director in 2008, however, a year later he sold his shares to Pinnacle Energy (PE) managed by Deepak Kochhar.
Chanda Kochhar had joined ICICI bank in the year 1984 and had risen to become the Managing Director and CEO of the bank.
The ED has cited that Deepak Kochhar was a close acquaintance of VN Dhoot, the Chairman and Managing Director of M/s Videocon Industries Ltd. But Chanda Kochhar had neither disclosed this fact nor recused herself from sanctioning committee of ICICI bank while sanctioning a loan to Videocon.