The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out an extensive search operation at the residence of Chanda Kochhar, former managing director and chief executive officer at ICICI Bank, in the Rs 3,250-crore Videocon group loan case. Business premises of her husband Deepak Kochhar and others were also searched in Mumbai and Aurangabad.
Confirming the development, an ED official said the searches were conducted in at least in five locations, including some premises of Videocon group companies. The search would continue over the weekend against the prime accused for their involvement in disbursing loans to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon group companies, it is learnt.
The Enforcement sleuths are probing the proceeds of crime which are suspected to have been used for creating assets. A special team from Delhi, assisted by Mumbai and Aurangabad police, has collected certain crucial evidences from the location. “So far, we have seized several documents — both soft and digital copies and also hard disk and laptops —from the premises which were being searched today. We are also in possession of some of the email trails exchanged between the prime accused in the case,’’ the official added.
The ED is looking into multiple transactions including investment of Rs 64 crore in Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables through his firm Supreme Energy (SEPL).
The agency had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) earlier last month against Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Industries chairman and MD, Venugopal Dhoot and others to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning of large loans by the ICICI Bank to the corporate group.
The ED had registered a money laundering case based on the first information report (FIR) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The agency filed a case on January 22 accusing Kochhar and eight others in the matter.
The CBI report had said the accused, including Videocon Industries and Dhoot, sanctioned certain loans to private firms in a criminal conspiracy and cheated ICICI Bank to the tune of Rs 1,730 crore. The CBI had said ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities of Rs 3,250 crore to several firms belonging to Videocon, such as Trend Electronics and Century Appliances in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI rules and the bank’s credit policy.
The Rs 3,250-crore credit amount was part of a total loan of Rs 40,000 crore sanctioned to the Videocon group by a 20-bank consortium.
The CBI probe also revealed a money trail. The loan was disbursed to Videocon International Electronics on September 7, 2009, and the next day Dhoot transferred Rs 64 crore to Kochhar’s firm Nupower through SEPL. This was the first capital received by Nupower to acquire its first power plant. This transaction showed Chanda Kochhar got “illegal gratification/undue benefits” through her husband’s firm, the agency had alleged.