New Delhi: Justice BN Srikrishna panel appointed by ICICI Bank to probe allegations against its former CEO Chanda Kochhar, has said that the relationship between Kochhars and Dhoots go back to ’90s and began before Chanda Kochhar became CEO of the private sector lender, the Economic Times reported.
The Srikrishna panel report said that real estate transactions between the two families pointed to the quid pro quo arrangement between them and Chanda Kochhar violated the lender’s code of conduct by not disclosing conflicts of interest, the ET report quoted people having knowledge of the matter as saying.
According to the business daily, Kochhars’ residence at CCI Chambers, opposite the Cricket Club of India in south Mumbai, is said to have been bought from the Videocon Group in a complex transaction in the mid-1990s. The apartment was purchased through Credential Finance, a financial services firm established by Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar and his brother Rajiv Kochhar, the publication added. The Videocon Group too had a stake in Credential Finance.
“One of the main findings of the enquiry report has been linking their relationship (Kochhars and Dhoots). The relation went a long way back, when they acquired their residential flat from parties linked to the Videocon Group,” the ET report quoted one of the persons cited above as saying.
“The report is quite detailed covering all the laws and talks about preponderance of probability and said such serious lapses — not informing the bank about conflict of interest with regard to Dhoots/Videocon Group — can’t be made by a person holding a senior position.”
However, Deepak Kochhar told ET that there was no such involvement. “The flat at CCI Chambers was conveyed from Bilquis Jahan Begum to me and my brother in February 1996,” Deepak Kochhar told ET. “Since then, I have been the owner and occupant till date. The conveyance deed and share certificate reflect the same.”
Even Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group also denied being part of the deal, the publication said.
“It (the flat) was owned by the Kochhar family from the beginning and we never ever had any ownership or other interest in the said flat,” Dhoot told ET.
It may be noted that Chanda Kochhar has been accused of sanctioning high-value loans to the Videocon Group during her tenure as the CEO of ICICI Bank, violating the lender’s policies in exchange for an investment by the Dhoots in a firm headed by her husband.