An ICICI Bank ATM in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters
An ICICI Bank ATM in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

The beleaguered chief executive of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, who is facing allegations of nepotism and conflict of interest, has taken a defiant stance and refused to comment, saying the bank’s board had already clarified the matter.

However, she sprang a surprise after the ICICI board meeting on Monday by announcing the “2020” strategy for the bank, though her term expires in 2019. Her elaborate plans appear to be designed to quell speculation about her tenure, reports The Times of India.

Interestingly, the board meeting was skipped by government nominee Lok Rajan and the chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), V K Sharma, the bank’s largest shareholder.

Kochhar announced the results for the fourth quarter ending in March after market hours on Monday. Compared with the same quarter a year ago, the bank’s profits were halved to 10.2 billion rupees (US$152 million) as against 20.2 billion rupees in Q4 of the 2016-17 fiscal.

However, the results were in line with analysts’ expectations. Moreover, the bank has substantially reduced the outstanding accounts in the watchlist (key source of future stress in the corporate loan book). In December it was 190 billion rupees, but by March, it had come down to 47.28 billion rupees.

On the other hand the net profit would have been even lower but for a one-time income arising from the sale of shares in its capital market arm, ICICI Securities, to the tune of 33.2 billion rupees.

After the results were announced, ICICI Bank’s American Depository Receipts rose 3.72% in the New York Stock Exchange, while in the Indian bourses it gained 5% in early trade.

Meanwhile India’s Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Department are investigating various aspects of the allegations related to the ICICI Bank CEO and her family members.