The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has widened the scope of its investigation into the conduct of ICICI Bank's former CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar. The agency is examining loans that ICICI Bank gave to Sandesara brothers-led Sterling Biotech and the crisis-hit Bhushan Steels, now a Tata group company.
ED suspects that the firm of Deepak Kochhar, Chanda Kochhar's husband, benefitted from the granting of a loan to the extent of hundreds of crores of rupees to Sterling Biotech. Nitin Sandesara and Chetan Sandesara own the Vadodara-based company and are wanted in alleged Rs 8,100 crore bank loan fraud.
Some reports say the Sandesara brothers are in Albania as economic offence fugitives. Hitesh Patel, one of the accused in the Sterling Biotech bank fraud case and a close aide of the Sandesaras, was arrested in Albania last month. ED is also looking into whether Chanda Kochhar benefitted by granting loans to Bhushan Steels, according to a report in India Today.
The ED suspects that Bhushan Steels offered to invest in Deepak Kochhar's firm in exchange for loans from ICICI Bank, the report said. The Central Bureau of Investigation is already probing Bhushan Steels for alleged financial frauds.
Reports say a Singapore citizen revealed to ED several dubious loans the ICICI Bank granted during Chanda Kochhar's tenure allegedly in exchange for investment in her husband's firm. ED sources believe a preliminary investigation showed the claims had substance and worth further probe The ED has summoned Chanda Kochhar and husband on May 3 for interrogation in connection with the Videocon money-laundering case, sources say. The probe agency has directed Kochhar for a personal appearance at its Delhi office with a detailed list of her movable and immovable assets.
Deepak Kochhar has also been summoned along with brother Rajeev Kochhar on April 30 to record statements under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED wants Chanda Kochhar to make full disclosure to the probe agency in line with the one she made to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and other regulators. The investigators are apparently convinced that Chanda Kochhar illegally benefitted from the loans sanctioned to several entities.