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ICICI Bank case: CBI officer transferred days after signing FIR against Chanda Kochhar, husband Deepak, other industry bigwigs

  • The CBI investigating officer in the bank fraud case against former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar was transferred days after signing the FIR in the case

  • Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, SP of the Banking and Securities Fraud Cell of the CBI was transferred to the Economic Offences Branch in Ranchi

  • Arun Jaitley, on Friday, said the CBI should avoid 'adventurism and concentrate only on the bull's eye'.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer looking into the bank fraud case against former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and several other bigwigs in the inductry, was transferred a day after the agency filed the FIR in the case, reports said.

 ICICI Bank case: CBI officer transferred days after signing FIR against Chanda Kochhar, husband Deepak, other industry bigwigs

Representational Image. AFP

The CBI, on Thursday, registered the case against Chanda Kochar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group managing director Venugopal Dhoot and others for allegedly defrauding ICICI Bank of Rs 1730 crore.

Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra, who was superintendent of the Banking and Securities Fraud Cell of the CBI, was transferred to the agency's Economic Offences Branch in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on Friday, The Indian Express reported. Mishra had signed the FIR in the case on 22 January.

Justifying the transfer, the CBI pinned the blame on Mishra, accusing him of keeping the preliminary inquiry pending for no reason. Officials also claimed that information regarding CBI raids was leaked.

"A discreet inquiry was conducted, and Sudhanshu Dhar Mishra was suspected to have a role in it. Hence, he has been transferred, pending a detailed inquiry in the matter," an official said.

On Thursday, the CBI had booked Chanda and Deepak Kochhar for criminal conspiracy and fraud. The agency also said former non-executive chairman of ICICI Bank KV Kamath, as well as present ICICI Bank CEO Sandeep Bakshi, Goldman Sachs India chairman Sonjoy Chatterjee, Standard Chartered Bank CEO Zarin Daruwala, Tata Capital head Rajiv Sabharwal and Tata Capital senior adviser Homi Khusrokhan, need to be investigated for high-value loans ICICI Bank had sanctioned under Chanda Kochhar to Videocon Industries.

The agency alleged that the loans were extended in violation of the bank's lending policies and in exchange for an investment by the consumer electronics company's owner in a business headed by Deepak Kochhar.

A day after the CBI filed the FIR, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took to Twitter, saying that when he read "the list of potential targets" in the ICICI case, he thought the agency was heading on a "journey to nowhere (everywhere)" instead of "focusing primarily on the target". "There is a fundamental difference between investigative adventurism and professional investigation," Jaitley wrote.

Jaitley, who is recuperating after a surgery in a hospital in the US, added that one of the reasons for the "poor" conviction rate in India was that "adventurism and megalomania" takes over investigators and professionalism takes a back seat.

His tweets were shared by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

What is the case about?

Kochhar had quit the ICICI on 4 October, 2018 in the wake of allegations that she had favoured Videocon in the lending processes because the consumer electronics company's founders had invested in a company belonging to Deepak Kochhar.

The CBI filed cases against her, Deepak, Dhoot and others after conducting raids at four premises in Maharashtra, the investigating agency had said.

The preliminary enquiry apparently showed that from June 2009 to October 2011, ICICI Bank had allegedly sanctioned six high-value loans to various Videocon Group companies, CBI sources said.

Chanda Kochhar had taken over the post of the Managing Director of the ICICI Bank on 1 May, 2009.

The companies M/S Nupower Renewables Limited (NRL) and M/S Supreme Energy Private Limited (SEPL) have also been named in the case registered by CBI. It is alleged that SEPL was initially incorporated by Dhoot and his associate Vasant Kakade and the ownership of the company was later transferred to Deepak Kochhar by selling the shares of the company to Pinnacle Energy Trust (PET) which was owned by Kochhar.

It was also alleged that Dhoot had invested a large amount of funds in Deepak Kochhar-owned Nupower months after the Videocon group received Rs 3,250 crore as loan from the ICICI Bank in 2012.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2019 15:24:15 IST