ICICI Bank-Videocon Case: Deepak Kochhar Remanded to ED Custody

The Kochhars are facing a PMLA probe over sanctioning of Rs 1,875-crore loans by ICICI Bank to the corporate group.

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Business
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Former ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar.
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Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar, has been remanded to Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody till 19 September by a Special PMLA Court.

The ED on Monday, 7 September, arrested Deepak in connection with ICICI Bank-Videocon case. According to NDTV, he had been questioned since noon of the same day.

According to The Times of India, the ED has claimed that it decided to take Deepak into custody because he refused to cooperate.

Deepak is a businessman whose company reportedly received funds from Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group.

WHAT THE ED CASE SAYS

In their application asking for Deepak's custodial remand, the ED said that investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) have revealed that ICICI bank disbursed a loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Limited (VIEL) on 7 September 2009.

The next day, out of the loan amount, 64 crores was transferred to Videocon International Limited (VIL), which in turn was "not used for its intended purpose" and Nupower Renewable Limited (NRL), another company owned by Deepak.

It further states that “an elaborate structure/web of entities”, was created to “ostensibly hold this amount of 64 crore”.

It also said that the investigation reveals that Deepak is involved in laundering the "proceeds of crime and has been involved in projecting the proceeds of crime as untainted".

They said that his custodial interrogation was essential to reveal facts that were exclusively in his domain and that there is "likelihood of him trying to obfuscate the trail of proceeds of crime identified so far or which are yet to be unearthed".

THE CASE

The ED has registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) last year against Chanda, Deepak, Dhoot of Videocon Group and others to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning of Rs 1,875-crore loans by ICICI Bank to the corporate group.

This ED action was based on a CBI FIR.

The CBI has named all the three and Dhoot's companies – Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited – in its case.

The Delhi High Court last month had asked Pacific Capital Service Private Limited, owned by Kochhar, if it wishes to pursue its plea for the release of assets seized by the ED under the PMLA before this court or in Mumbai.

The plea filed by Kochhar’s firm through lawyer Vijay Aggarwal had sought the release of documents, cash and electronic gadgets seized by ED under Section 17 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The Delhi HC query came after the respondent, the Enforcement Directorate, pointed out that a similar petition had already been moved in the Bombay High Court.

Justice Anup Jairam Bambani thereafter granted more time to the firm to decide on its stand and posted the matter for further hearing on 25 August.

“As per the amended Section 8(3)(a) the PMLA, the seizure of a property can only continue for a period of 365 days from the confirmation of the seizure by the ED. However, even after the lapse of the said period, no complaint in terms of Section 45 of the PMLA has been filed by the ED in the present case,” the plea said.

"The mandate of the law now is that the retention shall continue during investigation for a period not exceeding 365 days, as provided under Section 8(3)(a) of the PMLA," the plea added.

Other than the money laundering probe against Dhoot, the CBI in June this year booked Videocon Industries Limited (VIL) chairman Dhoot and others for alleged irregularities in the acquisition of oil and gas assets in Mozambique and causing loss to a consortium of banks led by the SBI. The Enforcement Directorate took over the probe soon after.

The ED had questioned Dhoot in December 2019 in Mumbai in connection with the case.

(With inputs from NDTV and TOI).

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