According to sources, the Srikrishna panel has sent queries to all the involved entities, seeking specific details around the loan sanction to Videocon group. “The queries to the parties also cover missing links, which are essential to understand the whole genesis,” said the person. The panel is believed to have examined each financial transaction between the Kochhar family and Videocon group, and the suspected trail of properties and assets that the Kochhar family acquired since she become the bank’s MD. The panel has also taken account of the banking relationship with Videocon’s other corporate houses, and concessions, if any, were provided to them.
Sources say that the Srikrishna panel has also thoroughly studied the role of the credit committee, which sanctioned the loan to Videocon group, given that large exposures to corporates like Videocon were approved by the credit committee of the board.
According to the records, the credit committee of ICICI Bank in 2012 had sanctioned its share of facilities to the Videocon group. It was a 12-member committee headed by then chairman K V Kamath. Besides, ICICI Bank, which gave a loan of Rs 32.5 billion as part of the 20-bank consortium which approved total loans of Rs 400 billion.
“The investigation into several allegations enters final stage. I am expecting the outcome by the third week of January,” Justice Srikrishna told Business Standard.
The panel has taken all aspects into consideration along with the replies it has received so far in the matter. Sources also said that if required, the Srikrishna panel would ask various parties to make a personal appearance after their written submissions.
Another person close to the development said that the probe report will be comprehensive, covering all digital records such as emails from 2009 to date. The report will include the genesis of business dealings that warranted the probe.
The panel has considered the forensic audit, emails, and personnel financials to come to a logical conclusion. Further, it has reviewed the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) 2016 detailed scrutiny in the ICICI Bank’s dealing with Videocon.
The RBI in its report had looked into the issue, but said no quid pro quo could be established.
Sources said that the Srikrishna panel had probed investments in NuPower Renewables
independently. The panel has also gone through the investigative agencies’ enquiry into this alleged nexus.
The Srikrishna Committee report would be critical for Kochhar and ICICI Bank, who are already facing a probe by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sebi has issued show cause notice to the bank and Kochhar and initiated adjudication proceeding against them. In June 2018, the ICICI Bank board had appointed Srikrishna to conduct an independent probe after it received whistle-blower complaints that Kochhar had violated the bank’s code of conduct and there were quid pro quo dealings in the loan given to Videocon group, which had, in turn, financed NuPower Renewables.
Kochhar opted for an early retirement amid the probe and had clarified to the market regulator that she was only part of the credit committee without any veto power. She also claimed to have attended only eight out of the 30 meetings held for the Videocon group ever since she took over as the bank’s MD. ICICI Bank declined comment on Business Standard’s e-mail, while queries to Kochhar did not elicit any response.
THE ISSUES SO FAR
ICICI Bank orders independent enquiry to probe allegations on Chanda Kochhar in June
Former SC judge Srikrishna appointed to probe the Videocon loan case
Panel reviews forensic audit of transactions between Kochhars and Videocon group
Examines digital records, emails related to Videocon loan case from 2009 to date
Studies the role of credit committee, which sanctioned the loan to Videocon group
Considers findings of investigative agencies and RBI of possible nexus in business dealings
Seeks specific details from all involved persons and entities
Report to be submitted by third week of January