In connection with alleged cheating and irregularities in loans sanctioned by the bank to Videocon Group companies, a special court in Mumbai on Saturday remanded ICICI Bank’s former CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) until December 26.

After a brief questioning session, the Kochhars were arrested by the investigation agency on Friday night.

According to the CBI, they were evasive in their responses and did not cooperate in the inquiry.

The CBI named the Kochhars and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group, as well as companies Nupower Renewables (NRL) managed by Deepak Kochhar, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd, and Videocon Industries Limited, as accused in the first information report (FIR) registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as accused in the first information report (FIR) registered in 2019.

The CBI alleged that ICICI Bank granted credit facilities of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group entities promoted by Dhoot in contravention of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI norms, and the bank’s credit policy.

The Rise And Fall Of Chanda Kocchar: 

Chanda Kochhar, who was arrested on Friday for a cash-for-loan fraud, was once a powerful banker who was important in establishing ICICI Bank as the country’s largest private-sector lender.

Kochhar, a frequent on Forbes’ list of top worldwide executives, was detained by the CBI along with her husband Deepak Kochhar in connection with alleged cheating and irregularities in ICICI Bank loans to Videocon Group companies. Kochhars were summoned to the agency’s headquarters and arrested after a brief interrogation.

Her tenure at ICICI Bank came to an end abruptly in 2018 when the board of directors approved Kochhar’s request for early retirement amidst allegations of corruption and bribery while issuing loans to the now-bankrupt Videocon Industries.

Kochhar, who rose to the top of the largest private sector lender, was embroiled in charges of conflict of interest, failure to disclose, and bribery when issuing loans to Videocon. She was, in fact, the country’s first female CEO of a big institution.

Kochhar, a favourite of then-group chairman K V Kamath, began his career as a management trainee at ICICI, then an infrastructure lender. When it became a commercial bank in the early 1990s, it rose to play a significant role in its transformation into a retail-focused lender.

Despite a strong leadership bench, she was chosen to succeed the larger-than-life Kamath as managing director and chief executive in 2009. Shikha Sharma (former Axis Bank Chief), who was senior to her in the group, was also let go as a result of her promotion.

She was a major member of the bank’s management before being elevated to the corner office, and she supervised the retail business as well as the chief financial officer.

While Kamath was subjected to numerous bank runs throughout his tenure, Kochhar’s solid control over the institution resulted in a complete cessation of such negative headlines. During her reign, there was only one bank run.

When an RBI review uncovered a large quantity of under-reported junk assets with the bank in 2015, she declared a new policy of focusing solely on well-rated clients.

She also supported a number of social issues, but it was her remarkable ascent to the top that was most recognised. Nonetheless, she baffled many with her contrarian beliefs, such as girls’ lack of quantitative analytical ability, resulting in a small percentage of women in B-schools.

Her leadership of the bank became a hyphenated relationship over the years, where she came to define ICICI Bank until her formal exit was announced six months after allegations of impropriety first surfaced, though she had been on indefinite leave after the board was forced to launch an external probe into the entire issue.

Her dismissal was motivated by a loan to Videocon and commercial transactions between its promoter Venugopal Dhoot and her husband Deepak Kochhar. Dhoot had invested in and later abandoned a power company promoted by Deepak, and Chanda Kochhar failed to recuse herself or report this when an ICICI Bank loan was provided to Videocon as part of a consortium.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

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