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CBI questions ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar’s brother-in-law

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NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday stopped Chanda Kochhar’s brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar at Mumbai airport while he was about to leave for a Southeast Asian country and brought him to its Bandra office for questioning in connection with its preliminary enquiry against his brother Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot.

CBI sources said that there was no look out circular (LoC) against Kochhar but he was intercepted by immigration authorities at Mumbai airport around 11 am on a specific information from the anti-corruption agency.

Sources said they felt the need to question him over allegations pertaining to his company Singapore based company Avista Advisory’s dealings with ICICI Bank.

His brother and Chanda Kochhar’s husband – Deepak Kochhar, is also likely to be soon called for questioning, said sources.

Rajiv Kochhar has denied the allegations saying that he doesn’t do business with his brother and there was no question of favouritism and conflict. “As a family rule we don’t work with each other,” Rajiv Kochhar had claimed in an interview.

The ICICI Bank has also denied that he ever engaged Avista for any services.

“We would like to categorically state that ICICI Bank has never engaged Avista Advisory Group for any services at all. Hence, the allegation of conflict of interest, as reported by a section of media, is totally baseless and mala fide in intent,” the bank said in a statement.

Avista Advisory describes itself as an independent boutique integrated financial services company that was focused on Southeast Asia and India regions.

CBI has already questioned a few ICICI Bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing Rs 3,250-crore loan to Videocon Group in 2012.

Agency officials said they are also studying relevant documents of the transaction and if they come across any evidence that indicates wrongdoing, ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar could be summoned for questioning.

TOI reported last week that CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) into the alleged nexus between ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot.

The agency is trying to ascertain the veracity of the allegations that Dhoot provided crores of rupees to a firm promoted by Deepak Kochhar and two relatives six months after Videocon group got Rs 3,250 crore as loan from ICICI Bank in 2012. The amount was part of the Rs 40,000-crore loan that Videocon group secured from a consortium of 20 banks led by SBI.

ICICI Bank has robustly defended Chanda Kochhar and said it reposed “full faith” in her. It also said there was no question or scope of any favouritism, nepotism or quid pro quo in the loans to Videocon.

Updated: April 5, 2018 — 10:34 pm

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