Former CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar. Photo: AFP

The Enforcement Directorate sleuths probing the 32.5 billion rupee (US$473 million) ICICI-Videocon loan scam has found many wrongdoings by former ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar and the Videocon group to evade taxes and launder money.

Chanda Kochhar had stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank in October last year following allegations of loans for favors and conflict of interest.

The enforcement investigators found that the firms run by Deepak Kochhar and the Videocon group had half a dozen “dummy” directors who had nothing to do with the company’s operations. They were kept to hide ownership and enable tax evasion and money laundering, Business Standard reports.

The investigators have recorded statements of those directors, who admitted that they were dummy representatives and that they had signed on many documents according to the instruction of their bosses.

They include Lakshmikant Sudhakar Katore, who was on the board of Real Cleantech Private (RCPL), a Videocon group firm. He was a gardener at the house of Videocon Industries Chairman Venugopal Dhoot.

Three others — Vivek Dattatraya Dharm, Kesharmal Nenusukhlal Gandhi and Chetan Ratansinh Mankerni — were on the board of Indian Refrigerator Company, another group firm of Videocon and also allegedly acted as dummy directors, the daily added.

Deepak Kochhar also had employed dummy directors in his firms Supreme Energy, Credential Finance and Pacific Capital Services. They include Neelam Mahesh Advani, Sharad Shankar Mhatre and Umanath Nayak. Advani is Chanda Kochhar’s sister-in-law and she reportedly told the investigators that she had nothing to do with the company and was not aware of this directorship.

The enforcement agency has reportedly summoned Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot to answer queries related to statements made by the dummy directors.

The Enforcement Directorate had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act earlier this year against Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and others to investigate the alleged irregularities in sanctioning of a loan by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group. The loans were later declared non-performing assets owing to payment defaults.

This Directorate’s action was based on a complaint registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau has named Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and two companies, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd (both owned by Dhoot), in its case.

The Directorate also named Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, in the complaint. The Central Bureau had alleged that Dhoot had invested in Nupower through his firm Supreme Energy in a quid pro quo for loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the bank’s CEO on May 1, 2009.

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