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Chanda Kochhar skips ED date; to be summoned again

New Delhi: Former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar on Monday skipped her scheduled appearance before the ED in a money laundering case probe, citing bad health, officials said.

The probe involves the bank and the Videocon group.

Chanda Kochhar will now be asked to depose later this week. She had not appeared before the agency even last week citing health reasons.

Official sources had told earlier this week that the central probe agency is now mulling to call some more bank officials to confront them with the statements made by Chanda Kochhar and obtain further leads.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had last month questioned and recorded the statements of Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar over multiple sessions.

The agency is also preparing to analyse the details of assets of the Kochhars and others so that they can be provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chanda Kochhar’s brother-in-law and Deepak’s brother, Rajiv Kochhar, has also been grilled by the ED multiple times in the case.

The Kochhar couple have been questioned in the past too at the ED’s zonal office in Mumbai after the central agency conducted raids on March 1.

The searches were conducted at the premises of Chanda Kochhar, her family and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Aurangabad.

The ED registered a criminal case under the PMLA earlier this year against Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and others to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning Rs 1,875-crore of loans by ICICI Bank to the corporate group.

This action of the agency was based on an FIR registered by the CBI.

The CBI has named all the three and Dhoot’s companies — Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited (VIL) — in its case.

The anti-corruption probe agency also named Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, in the FIR.

The CBI alleged that Dhoot had invested in Nupower through his firm Supreme Energy in a quid pro quo to loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the CEO of the bank on May 1, 2009.

The ownership of Nupower and Supreme Energy changed hands through a complex web of shared transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot, the CBI alleged. During its preliminary enquiry, the CBI found that six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to the Videocon Group and companies associated with it between June 2009 and October 2011 in alleged violation of laid-down policies of ICICI Bank, which have now become part of the probe.

The loans were declared non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank, it alleged.

The ED, the sources said, is also probing at least two other instances of loans given by the ICICI Bank (during Chanda Kochhar’s tenure) to Gujarat-based pharmaceutical firm Sterling Biotech and to Bhushan Steel group, both of which are under its probe for alleged money laundering charges.

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