Avista Advisory group, a Singapore based company owned by Rajeev Kochhar, is said to have helped ICICI Bank clients in restructuring their foreign loans. On Thursday, the Central Bureau of Investigation stopped Kochhar at the Mumbai airport and questioned him. But who is Rajeev Kochhar?
Here are a few things to know about Rajeev Kochhar and his alleged role in the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case:
Rajiv Kochhar is the brother of ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar, who is facing a CBI probe in relation to an alleged impropriety in the loan the bank gave consumer durables firm Videocon. It is being investigated if the loan was granted to Videocon in lieu of the firm’s investments in Kochhar’s personal company Nupower.
Nupower, the ICICI Bank board and Videocon have denied any wrongdoing.
The Kochhar brothers are well known in Mumbai’s financial circles for setting up Credential Finance in the 1990s. The company folded up in the early 2000s and both brothers parted ways. Rajeev Kochhar, who is the son-in-law of Sharad Upasani, the former chief secretary of Maharashtra, later went to Singapore to set up Avista Advisory group.
Over the past six years, Avista won the mandate to restructure foreign currency-denominated debt deals worth over $1.7 billion to seven companies. All these companies were borrowers of ICICI Bank. In at least one of these deals, ICICI Bank was the lead bank of the lenders, the Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP Member of Parliament, had tweeted that the CBI should probe whether Avista Advisory received 5 per cent on every big loan for certification. Avista, according to an industry source, had expertise in restructuring foreign currency loans in association with Houlihan Lokey, a US-based firm.
Rajiv Kochhar had denied any conflict of interest in business dealing with ICICI Bank in his earlier interviews to the media. “There is no conflict. The entire process of selection of ‘debtor advisor’ was competitive. We were chosen as a ‘debtor advisor’ in the restructuring of the FCCBs of Jaiprakash Associates Limited, Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited and GTL Infrastructure. In these restructuring transactions, the ‘Debtor’ of the FCCBs were the respective companies and the ‘Creditor’ were the respective foreign currency convertible bondholders who are ‘Foreign Investors’ in these FCCBs. Avista advised the companies in the negotiation with these Foreign Investors in order to restructure the FCCBs. Since the FCCB restructuring transaction did not involve any negotiations between the companies and the ‘Domestic Lenders’, there is no conflict of interest of whatsoever nature,” he had said.
According to Avista’s website, the company has a strong stressed asset restructuring advisory practice and a successful NPL resolution platform in South East Asia and India and access to a wide spectrum of pools of institutional and private capital. The company was also in the process of setting up a stressed asset and special situation (SASS) investment management and investment advisory platform.