The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking into the transactions between Avista Advisory's founder, Rajiv Kochhar, and the Videocon group in connection with the Rs 32.5-billion loan disbursed by ICICI Bank to the consumer durables major. Rajiv Kochhar is the brother-in-law of Chanda Kochhar, managing director of the bank.
The probe agency questioned Rajiv Kochhar for a fifth day in a row. The discussion centred on some important loan restructuring documents, sources said. They added that the CBI has been examining his there Mahesh Chandra Punglia, said to be closely associated with the Videocon group; both are also former directors of the Deepak Kochhar led-NuPower Renewables. Rajiv is the brother of Deepak, the husband of Chanda Kochhar.
Punglia was asked to explain the business structures; he had worked with Videocon and later also provided consultancy to the company. NuPower has undergone a change of shareholders in recent years and the CBI is verifying the statements and information related to the transactions. It has also got auditors to examine Avista’s books of accounts, to know how much of its advisory income had come from various companies, including ICICI.
“The company’s books are being examined to ascertain any wrongful gain. Further, the central agency is said to have asked for details about some complicated transactions it has come across during the probe,” said a source.
Reportedly, Avista was involved in two transactions with Videocon Industries, which included refinancing of foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) of $194 million in 2015 and again in 2016 worth $97 mn.
An allegation is that Rajiv Kochhar helped ICICI in restructuring FCCB deals for at least seven companies. The combined value of these deals, which include those of Videocon and other blue-chip entities, is $1.7 billion. He has also been questioned on allegations that he had taken a commission on every such deal, allegedly passed by the bank without necessary scrutiny.
Another allegation is creation of a network of companies by Rajiv and Deepak Kochhar for alleged personal gain.
CBI is collating all the information and recording statements based on this. It will then decide whether its Preliminary Enquiry (PE, registered around a month before) could be converted into a formal First Information Report. Typically, a PE continues for two months.
Last week, Rajiv Kochhar was stopped at Mumbai airport before he could board a flight for Singapore. He was interrogated for several hours.