Rajiv Kochhar, founder of Avista Advisory, was on Thursday detained at Mumbai airport before he could board a flight for Singapore. He is the brother-in-law of ICICI Bank Managing Director Chanda Kochhar.
Rajiv Kochhar was interrogated by the Central Board of Investigation (CBI) for about seven hours over the Rs 32.50-billion loan disbursed to the Videocon group and others. CBI sources said Rajiv Kochhar allegedly helped ICICI Bank in restructuring foreign currency convertible bond (FCCB) deals for at least seven companies. The combined value of the deals is $1.7 billion. The deals include those of Videocon and other blue-chip firms.
The agency is examining the allegations against Avista, which seems to have acted as a loan syndicator and was getting a commission for each deal. Sources said the agency was also looking at the role of the credit committee that had extended the loan to these firms. In an interview with a media outlet, Rajiv Kochhar denied all allegations and said he, or his firm, did not have any business arrangement with ICICI Bank.
Reportedly, Avista was involved in two transactions with Videocon Industries, which included refinancing of FCCBs of $194 million in 2015 and again in 2016 for restructuring of FCCBs worth $97 million.
Further, the CBI is said to be examining the relevant documents related to loan transactions in these companies for evidence of a possible nexus between Chanda Kocchar, her husband Deepak Kocchar, Rajiv Kochhar and Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot. CBI sources hinted the agency could summon other executives of ICICI Bank and members of the Kochhar family.
The investigation is part of the preliminary enquiry that the CBI had registered a month ago. Sources said the enquiry was launched to ascertain the allegation that Dhoot gave money to a firm promoted by Deepak Kochhar and his two relatives six months after the Videocon group received a Rs 32.50 billion loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.
The Rs 32.50-billion loan was part of the Rs 400-billion one that the Videocon group got from a consortium of 20 banks led by State Bank of India.
A fortnight ago, the ICICI Bank board defended Chanda Kochhar and denied allegations of favouritism, while terming reports regarding credit disbursement to the Videocon group "malicious and unfounded rumours". The bank also said that none of NuPower Renewables' investors was a debtor to ICICI Bank.
NuPower was also issued a notice by the income-tax department, seeking an explanation on assets, income and tax liability. The tax authorities have asked the company to furnish details within 10 days.