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Chanda Kochhar takes ICICI Bank to Bombay HC; hearing on December 2

With this, the stage is set for an intense legal battle between the bank and its former CEO

Dev Chatterjee  |  Mumbai 

Chanda Kochhar
Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank’s former managing director and chief executive officer, has moved the Bombay High Court, challenging the decision of the bank’s board earlier this year to terminate her employment and claw back the bonuses and stock options she received between April 2009 and March 2018.

A division Bench of the high court comprising Justice Ranjit More and Justice Makarand Karnik will hear Kochhar’s plea on December 2. With this, the stage is set for an intense legal battle between the bank and its former CEO.

Last year, after media reports raised questions over Kochhar’s dealings with the Videocon group, the bank’s board had initially defended her and rejected any external enquiry, but later changed its stance after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started its probe into the matter. On June 6, 2018, the bank appointed retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna to enquire into all the allegations.

Chanda Kochhar takes ICICI Bank to Bombay HC; hearing on December 2

In a meeting held on January 30, 2019, the ICICI Bank board announced that it would treat the separation of Kochhar as a ‘termination for cause’ in accordance with the bank’s internal policies and code of conduct. The termination revoked all her entitlements such as any unpaid amounts, unpaid bonuses or increments, unvested and vested but unexercised stock options, and medical benefits, apart from the clawback of all bonuses paid between April 2009 and March 2018.

The board’s decision to remove Kochhar came after the detailed investigation report from Justice Srikrishna, who investigated the allegation that Videocon Industries was granted loans by ICICI Bank and, in quid pro quo, Videocon invested in Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s company, Nupower Renewables. Nupower, Videocon, and Kochhar have denied these allegations.

An email sent to ICICI Bank did not elicit any reply. Kochhar did not reply to text messages.

The allegations against Kochhar were first made by whistle-blower Arvind Gupta, who wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2016 alleging irregularities in ICICI Bank's loan disbursements to corporates under Kochhar’s watch.

The scandal exploded when in March 2018, the media reported that the CBI had filed a preliminary enquiry against Kochhar. In January 2019, the CBI filed an FIR against the Kochhars and Videocon. The Enforcement Directorate is also investigating Videocon and the Kochhars.

Videocon is now facing bankruptcy proceedings after defaulting on bank loans worth Rs 40,000 crore. ICICI Bank has made a claim of Rs 3,318 crore against Videocon in the ongoing insolvency proceedings.

The allegations against Kochhar were first made by whistle-blower Arvind Gupta, who wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2016 alleging irregularities in ICICI Bank's loan disbursements to corporates under Kochhar’s watch. The scandal exploded when in March 2018, the media reported that the CBI had filed a preliminary enquiry against Kochhar. In January 2019, the CBI filed an FIR against the Kochhars and Videocon. The Enforcement Directorate is also investigating Videocon and the Kochhars.

First Published: Sat, November 30 2019. 02:14 IST
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