Deepak Kochhar gets HC relief in PMLA case
A diary and Rs 10.5 lakh seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during a March 1 search at the office of Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, may soon be released after the Bombay high court on Friday stayed attachment proceedings.
As part of the attachment process under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), a suspect or accused is given 180 days’ time to challenge the seizure or attachment of any article by the ED before the PMLA adjudicating authority confirms the action.
Deepak Kochhar, through his lawyers Vijay Aggarwal and Ashul Agarwal, on Friday challenged ED’s seizure from the office of Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd,a company belonging to the Kochhars, in Mumbai’s Nariman Point on March 1.
The items seized by ED included Deepak Kochhar’s personal diary and Rs 10.5 lakh in cash, which the agency has alleged may be proceeds of crime.
Two laptops, one central processing unit and a hard disk, details of submissions made by Kochhar before the Central Bureau of Investigation, a note on overseas funds raised and their utilization by the company were among the items seized.
ED also seized financial statements of a company called Firstland Holdings Ltd, a directors’ report to shareholders of Pacific Capital and six more companies, bank account details of Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd and sale deed of a flat at CCI Chambers, Mumbai, which the agency has alleged was bought with the proceeds of crime.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Pacific, pointed out various legal and factual infirmities which were committed by the appellate tribunal and adjudicating authority.
ED could not be reached for comment on the development.
The ED probe is based on a CBI first information report (FIR) registered in January, in which Chanda Kochhar was named an accused along with her husband and Videocon group managing director Venugopal Dhoot.
It has been alleged that six high-value loans worth Rs 1,875 crores were illegally given to Videocon group companies between June 2009 and October 2011 when Chanda Kochhar was the bank’s chief executive officer. The CBI has alleged that the Kochhars received a quid-pro-quo through the transfer of Dhoot’s stake in NuPower Renewables to Deepak Kochhar (a co-promoter of the company) after a Rs 300-crore loan was given to Videocon by ICICI Bank.
Chanda Kochhar, who stepped down from ICICI Bank on October 4, 2018, after allegations of misconduct and corruption, defended herself before the ED in March this year saying the loans were given on merit and have no links with her husband’s business.In January, she was sacked as chief executive of ICICI Bank after a panel indicted her on several counts.