MUMBAI: Pressure is mounting on Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank and its board amid fresh reports pointing to Kochhar's yet another likely quid pro quo connection to Essar Group.
The details emerged close on the heels of the ongoing ICICI-Videocon probe and amid a CBI investigation of Kochhar's brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar a few weeks ago.
Investors and shareholders are already pressing for her voluntary departure from the country's second largest private bank, notwithstanding the strong backing of the board. "When the top management's credentials are questioned, it's logical to step down to uphold good corporate governance norms," one of ICICI's minority shareholders told Express. Yet, weeks after the sensational development came to light, Chanda Kochhar, has been maintaining an eerie silence and even skipped a few events to avoid public glare.
On Thursday, reports revealed another complex web of financial dealings between Firstland Holdings Ltd, a Mauritius-based investment firm and Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Renewables. As per the Registrar of Companies (RoC) records, Firstland Holdings is promoted by Nishant Kanodia, son-in-law of Essar Group chairman Ravi Ruia. ICICI Bank has lent upwards $500 million to Essar Group, which is now an NPA. Data from RoC also suggests that NuPower received funds from Firstland Holdings around the same time when Essar Group handed over loans as part of the consortium lending.
Whistleblower Arvind Gupta, who first alleged quid pro quo charges pointing to ICICI Bank's Rs 660 crore loan to Venugopal Dhoot-owned Videocon Industries and NuPower's links with Firstland Holdings, should be investigated on the grounds of money laundering and round-tripping.