ICICI Bank names Bakhshi as interim head; CEO Chanda Kochhar to go on leave during probe

 ICICI Bank names Bakhshi as interim head; CEO Chanda Kochhar to go on leave during probe

MUMBAI (Reuters) - ICICI Bank named group veteran Sandeep Bakhshi as its interim head on Monday, and said its Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar would go on leave pending the completion of a probe over an alleged conflict of interest that has led to months of controversy for the lender.

Bakhshi, who currently heads ICICI's life insurance arm, will take up a newly created position of chief operating officer at the bank for a period of five years beginning June 19, pending regulatory approvals, the bank said in a statement late on Monday.

Bakhshi will report to the bank's board during the period of Kochhar's leave and will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions, ICICI Bank said. All the executive directors of the bank and its executive management would report to Bakhshi.

Kochhar, 56, who has been the CEO of ICICI Bank since May 2009, has faced allegations of favouring Videocon Group, a consumer electronics and oil and gas exploration company, in the bank's lending practices. Videocon's founders had an investment in a renewable energy company founded by Kochhar's husband.

ICICI Bank said last month it would institute a probe headed by an independent person into the allegations raised by an anonymous whistleblower against Kochhar.

"In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Ms. Chanda Kochhar has decided to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry," the bank said.

The bank's board had initially backed Kochhar, calling the rumours "malicious and unfounded".

Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar has denied any wrongdoing, as has the head of the Videocon group. Chanda Kochhar has not commented on the issue.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Abhirup Roy; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)

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Updated Date: Jun 19, 2018 00:06:29 IST