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Videocon loan controversy: Will authorities charge bankers involved under the anti-corruption law?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is conducting a preliminary enquiry against Deepak Kochhar, the husband of ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, and also officials of the Videocon Group and others to determine alleged wrongdoing in the sanctioning of a Rs 3,250 crore ICICI loan to the Videocon Group, could charge bankers involved in the deal under the anti-corruption law.

A landmark judgement of the Supreme Court, dated February 2016, has said that chairpersons, directors and officers of private banks are public servants and that they could be charged for corruption under the anti-corruption law.

Back then, a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice PC Pant held accountable all officials of private lender Global Trust Bank Ltd (GTB) for indulging in corrupt practices. The SC said bank employees, whether private or government, discharge a public duty and are therefore amenable to the jurisdiction of the Prevention of Corruption Act, a law meant to prosecute government employees.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The court, according to the Hindustan Times, allowed the CBI's appeal to prosecute two former GTB staffers who had allegedly cleared credit facilities for a private company in violation of rules.

Now, the CBI, on 31 March, reportedly said that Chanda Kochhar, against whom conflict of interest questions have been raised, was not named in the abovementioned preliminary enquiry.

The CBI action followed news reports of an alleged quid pro quo deal between the Videocon Group and ICICI Bank.

A preliminary enquiry is conducted to determine if there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, before a case is taken up for detailed investigation. If sufficient evidence suggests that a cognisable offence has been committed, then the preliminary enquiry is converted into a regular case or a first information report (FIR).

The CBI has reportedly collected documents related to the ICICI loan given to the Videocon group in 2012.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2018 17:26 PM

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