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ED files charge sheet against Kochhars, 9 others in money laundering case

Videocon's Dhoot also named; matter set to be heard on November 11

Chanda Kochhar
In January, the probe agency had provisionally attached the assets of the Kochhar family, including a plush South Mumbai apartment (valued at Rs 76 crore), as proceeds of crime.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a prosecution complaint, also known as charge sheet, against ICICI bank’s former chief executive officer and managing director Chanda Kochhar, husband Deepak Virendra Kochhar, and nine others in connection with a money laundering case involving the private lender and Videocon Group.

The ED charge sheet also named Videocon Group and chairman Venugopal Dhoot. Companies of Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar are part of the chargesheet as well.

This is the first prosecution in the matter after the case was registered in February 2019. The charge sheet was submitted to the Mumbai Sessions Court under the fresh deadline following the arrest of Deepak Kochhar on September 7. 

Under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the agency is required to file a charge sheet within 60 days from the date of arrest.

The ED is learnt to have scrutinised five trunks full of documents in the matter. The evidence and findings were submitted to the court on Wednesday. The court is yet to take cognizance of the charge sheet; the matter has been adjourned until November 11. 

Without divulging the amount of proceeds, a source said the probe focused on the money trail of the loan amount sanctioned to Videocon Group, a part of which went to Deepak Kochhar’s companies.

 “Six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to Videocon Group and companies associated with it between June 2009 and October 2011 and this was allegedly in violation of the policies of ICICI Bank. The evidence in this regard has been submitted to the court, and is also part of the prosecution complaint,” said the source.

In January, the probe agency had provisionally attached the assets of the Kochhar family, including a plush South Mumbai apartment (valued at Rs 76 crore), as proceeds of crime.

After the attachment of property, the probe agency typically gets 180 days to file a prosecution complaint and this period ended in August. The main reason for the delay was the agency's inability to confirm the attachment of the said property. After Deepak Kochhar’s arrest, the agency got a fresh deadline.

During his custody, Deepak Kochhar had moved the Delhi High Court and sought quashing of the money laundering case, and also called his arrest illegal.

He claimed he had cooperated with the investigation and was constrained in furnishing information sought by the ED due to Covid-19-related restrictions. During his custody, he even tested positive.

The probe agency had alleged that Dhoot had invested in NuPower through his firm Supreme Energy in a quid pro quo for the loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the bank's CEO on May 1, 2009.

However, Deepak Kochhar has maintained that the funds received by NuPower from Videocon Industries had no connection with the private lender sanctioning the loans around the same time.

The ED’s money-laundering case is based on a first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the Kochhars, Dhoot, and others. The CBI is yet to file a charge sheet in the case.

The CBI has accused the former bank chief of alleged quid pro quo through her husband. It also alleged that the ownership of NuPower and Supreme Energy changed hands through a complex web of shared transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot.

The CBI had said ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities of Rs 3,250 crore to several firms belonging to Videocon Group, such as Trend Electronics and Century Appliances, in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, Reserve Bank of India rules, and the bank’s credit policy.