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Immigration stops Chanda Kochhar’s brother-in-law from flying out of country

Rajiv Kochhar was detained at the Mumbai International Airport when he was about to leave for a southeast Asian country. The CBI had issued a Lookout Circular (LoC) against him in connection with the ICICI Bank’s dealing with Videocon Group.

business Updated: Apr 05, 2018 22:23 IST
Rajesh Ahuja, New Delhi
Chanda Kochhar,Rajiv Kochhar,Mumbai airport
ICICI Bank CEO and MSD Chanda Kochhar during a press conference in Mumbai.(AFP File Photo)

Immigration authorities on Thursday stopped Rajiv Kochhar, brother-in-law of ICICI bank managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, from leaving the country at the request of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), officials familiar with the matter said.

He was subsequently handed over to the CBI for questioning in connection with the preliminary enquiry (PE) registered to probe charges of potential criminality in the sanctioning of a Rs 3,250 crore loan to Videocon Group by ICICI Bank. His brother Deepak Kochchar is named in that PE. Deepak Kochchar is the husband of Chanda Kochchar ,who is not named in the PE.

“Yes, Kochhar was detained at Mumbai airport and handed over to the CBI,” said a senior government official who supervises such cases, and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A CBI official confirmed on condition of anonymity that Kochhar was brought to the agency’s Mumbai office and questioned.

“Certain clarifications were required from Kochhar; therefore he was brought to the CBI office for questioning,” this official added.

CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal confirmed Kochhar’s examination. Dayal clarified that there is no so-called look-out notice for Kochchar. Normally, PEs do not warrant such notices.

The federal investigating agency’s PE is based on a whistleblower’s complaint and concerns a suspected quid-pro-quo in a loan extended by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group in 2012, and Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot’s personal investment (and subsequent transfer of ownership) in a company co-founded by him and Deepak Kochchar. Dhoot is also named in the PE.

ICICI Bank had sanctioned the loan to Videocon Group as a part of a consortium. Its board has ruled out any conflict of interest issues for Chanda Kochchar and reposed faith in her. The bank’s position is that it was a minority partner in the consortium led by State Bank of India.

A PE is held to determine if there is enough evidence of wrongdoing for suspects to be brought under a formal probe. A PE can be converted into a regular case or a first information report (FIR) when sufficient material becomes available to show prima facie that a cognizable offence has been committed.

CBI officials remained tigh-tlipped on the role played Rajiv Kochhar in the case.

A spokesperson for ICICI Bank declined comment.

First Published: Apr 05, 2018 18:38 IST