ICICI bank fraud: Court refuses bail to Deepak Kochhar
A special court on Tuesday refused bail to Deepak Kochhar, the husband of former ICICI Bank managing director Chanda Kochhar, in connection with the money laundering case against him.
His lawyers cited a recent order of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Adjudicating Authority’s refusal to confirm attachment of the flat owned by the couple, saying it was not the proceeds of crime. In this backdrop, Deepak Kochhar claimed there was no evidence of money laundering against him.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) opposed the plea and claimed the order of Authority has nothing to do with the proceedings before the court. In any case, the agency said, they were in a process of challenging the order.
ED said between June 2009 and October 2011, ICICI Bank sanctioned six high value loans to various Videocon Group companies. In August 2009, Rupee Term Loan (RTL) of Rs300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) in contravention of the bank’s rules and policy.
“As per the structure created by/on the directions of the accused [Deepak Virendra Kochhar], part of the amount which was taken as loan by VIEL from ICICI Bank with an interest liability of more than 12% per annum was paid/transferred to NRPL without any security and without any interest payable by them. This amount of Rs 64 crore is proceeds of crime that is transferred by Videocon Group/ Mr. V. N. Dhoot to NRPL, a company beneficially owned and controlled by Deepak Kochhar,” the ED said in its reply.
“The said amount Rs64 crore has been utilised for purchasing properties [Wind farm projects of 33.15 MW capacity].” ED said the proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 64 crore were not intended to be returned to VIL. “... because the company of Videocon Group namely M/s Real Cleantech Private Limited [RCPL, which was part of structure created for holding the proceeds of crime], was allowed silent death i.e. it was struck off in 2018 and the link for return back of funds to Videocon Group was broken.”
ED said the flat located at CCI Chambers acquired by family trust of Chanda Kochhar from Videocon Group for a minuscule amount is also a part of proceeds of crime. “Chanda Kochhar and the accused were associated with Mr. V. N. Dhoot/Videocon Group since 1994-95. The accused floated M/s Vikvin Finance Private Limited (VFPL) with his Mother [Late Mrs. Vinodini Kochhar] on 18.03.1992 which was later renamed as M/s Credential Finance Limited (CFL) on 27.09.1994,” the agency said.
It added Chanda Kochhar was allotted 1890 equity shares of CFL in 1993. “Further, in 1994-1995, Dhoot through M/s Videocon International Limited, had also invested approximately Rs10 crore in CFL. The flat was the asset of CFL and was purchased after the investment of Dhoot.”
The agency said in 2016, through various layered transactions, the flat was transferred to the family trust of Chanda Kochhar set up by her mother for the benefit of her children and Deepak Kochhar is its managing trustee.
Deepak Kochhar earlier sought bail saying the ED had failed to file a charge sheet against him within the stipulated 60 days of his arrest. He argued therefore he was entitled to be released on bail. The special court rejected the argument last month.
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