Armed with evidence on the money trail of six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore sanctioned by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group between June 2009 and October 2011 that later became non-performing assets, the Enforcement Directorate began questioning Deepak Kochhar, the businessman husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, in Mumbai on Tuesday. Kochhar was arrested late on Monday and has been questioned since noon yesterday. He was remanded to ED custody till September 19 by a special PMLA court.
The ED said Kochhar was arrested after he refused to cooperate and held under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Print quoted unnamed ED officials as saying the agency had asked him specific questions backed by fresh evidence but he was evasive and not answering questions.
In January 2019, the ED had begun proceedings against Kochhar, her husband and Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot under PMLA provisions to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in the sanction of Rs 1,875 crore loans. The CBI had accused Chanda Kochhar of receiving a kickback through her husband from Videocon for sanctioning loans. According to the ED, Videocon had allegedly invested in Deepak Kochhar’s firms in return for the loans which had been cleared by Kochhar, who resorted for early retirement in late 2019 following the allegations.
The Kochhars, Dhoot and the other accused had denied allegations. The ED case is based on complaint registered by CBI, which is running an independent investigation.
The Print quoted Deepak Kochhar’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal as saying the arrest was illegal since his client had cooperated with the probe. And since he has always joined the investigation on summons, Aggarwal said the alleged offences are punishable by imprisonment up to 7 years only and Kochhar need not have been arrested like this.