Venugopal Dhoot files bail plea in HC, calls his arrest by CBI illegal
Hours after the Bombay high court granted bail to Chanda Kochhar, former MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, and her husband Deepak Kochhar, in a loan fraud case on Monday, their co-accused and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot filed a similar plea in the court, claiming that his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was illegal
Hours after the Bombay high court granted bail to Chanda Kochhar, former MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, and her husband Deepak Kochhar, in a loan fraud case on Monday, their co-accused and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot filed a similar plea in the court, claiming that his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was illegal.
Interestingly, the bail petition is expected to come up for hearing before a bench of justice Revati Mohite Dere and justice P K Chavan which ordered the Kochhars’ release on the grounds that the agency did not adhere to the legal provisions while arresting the couple.
The Kochhars were arrested by the CBI on December 24 while Dhoot was arrested two days later. Dhoot had on the day of his arrest - December 26 - moved a bail plea before the special CBI court.
Dhoot’s lawyers S S Ladda and Viral Babar had argued that he had always cooperated with the investigating officer and that he was never arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, which has already filed its prosecution complaint before the special PMLA court in a connected case.
Ladda also said that Dhoot was arrested under pressure. In the handwritten plea, Dhoot said on the day of his arrest, he had voluntarily gone to the CBI office. The CBI had summoned Dhoot for questioning on December 25 but he was hospitalised in Aurangabad, the plea said, adding the next day, he was arrested for non-cooperation.
The agency had claimed that they had issued a notice to Dhoot, as they needed to confront him with the Kochhars. Even if he had cooperated with the ED that did not mean that he willingly joined the probe with the CBI too, it said.
After hearing both sides, the special CBI court on January 5 rejected Dhoot’s plea.
According to the CBI, between June 2009 and October 2011, ICICI Bank had sanctioned rupee term loans (RTLs) of ₹1,875 crore to six companies of Videocon Group for the purpose of enabling them to repay the loans to M/s Videocon Industries Limited.
All these loans were sanctioned after Chanda Kochhar took over as the MD and CEO of the bank. She was on the sanctioning committee when two loans - RTL of ₹300 crore to M/s Videocon International Electronics Limited and RTL of ₹750 crore to M/S Videocon Industries Limited - were sanctioned.
ICICI bank had also released the security in the form of fixed deposits of ₹50 crore in the accounts of Videocon Group companies - M/s Sky Appliance Limited and M/s Techno Electronic Limited, the agency said.
It is further alleged that on April 26, 2012, the existing outstanding of the six RTL accounts was adjusted in RTL of ₹1,730 crore sanctioned to M/s VIL under refinance of domestic debt. The account of M/s VIL was declared NPA with effect from June 30, 2017, and the present outstanding in the a/c was ₹1,033 crore, the agency said.