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Chanda Kochhar Makes First Public Appearance Since Videocon Loan Row

The managing director and chief executive of the second largest private sector lender, however, did not make any comments at the short public appearance at the BSE.

PTI

Updated:April 27, 2018, 10:44 PM IST
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Chanda Kochhar Makes First Public Appearance Since Videocon Loan Row
File photo of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar. (PTI)
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Mumbai: Chanda Kochhar, the embattled chief of ICICI Bank, on Friday made her maiden public appearance this evening after late last month reports emerged about allegations of conflict of interest involving her and her husband in extending loans to the Videocon Group.

The managing director and chief executive of the second largest private sector lender, however, did not make any comments at the short public appearance at the BSE.

Dressed in a red-saree, Kochhar surprised the large posse of reporters by making an entry at an economic summit organised at the oldest stock bourse in Asia.

The meeting had Union Cabinet ministers like Suresh Prabhu and Jayant Sinha and Maharashtra and Assam chief ministers as key speakers.

Kochhar occupied a front-row table at the International Convention Hall in the 28-sotrey BSE Towers (JJ Towers), which served as the chaotic trading floor in the pre-dematerialisation days and represented the spirit of desi enterprise. Veteran i-bankers Vallabh Bhansali and Hemendra Kothari, both of whom have sold their businesses nearly a decade ago, shared the table with Kochhar.

All through her presence, Kochhar didn't have any long conversations with any of those present and also avoided the media.

In the recent past, ever since the controversy over conflict of interest in extending Rs 3,250-crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2010 broke out and a lack of disclosures on the same arose, Kochhar has been conspicuously missing from public appearances.

She gave the miss to a big-ticket women's empowerment event organised by industry lobby Ficci in the national Capital which was addressed by President Ramnath Kovind early April and was also not present at the listing of the bank's investment banking arm ICICI Securities later in the middle of this month.

The bank is set to announce its quarter results on May 7. Usually, Kochhar addresses the media telecon.

The controversy relates to a Rs 3,250-cr loan from ICICI Bank to the Venugopal Dhoot-led Videocon Group in 2010 which since then turned dud. Dhoot set up a green energy company Nupower right before and soon after the loan was given Dhoot sold it to Deepak Kochhar, Chanda's husband who along with his relatives then gave a Rs 64-crore loan to this company through a fully-owned entity before transferring the ownership to a trust headed by Deepak Kochhar for a paltry sum of Rs 9 lakh.

The questions of propriety and conflict of interest come as the transfer of the company to Deepak Kochchar happened six months after the Videocon got the Rs 3,250 crore loan from ICICI Bank and almost 86 per cent of that loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remains unpaid and Videocon was declared bankrupt mid last year and is at the NCLT now.

The national enforcement agencies CBI and ED are probing the case now.

In the meanwhile, an Indian Express report had yesterday, quoting RoC data, said the Mauritius-based Nupower Renewables of Deepak Kochhar got investments of Rs 325 crore from Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings, a firm owned by Nishant Kanodia, son-in-law of Essar Group co-founder Ravi Ruia since December 2010.

Incidentally, in the same month ICICI Bank was the lead banker in a consortium of domestic banks that extended a USD 530-million loan to Essar Steel Minnesota in December 2010. This loan was later classified as NPA.
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