High Court Bombay HC grants bail to Deepak Kochhar in money-laundering...

Bombay HC grants bail to Deepak Kochhar in money-laundering scam case

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Mumbai, Mar 25 (ILNS) The Bombay High Court today granted bail to Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, in the multi-crore money laundering scam case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Justice PD Naik granted bail to Kochhar on the condition that he would execute a PR Bond of Rs three lakh and deposit his passport. Kochhar was arrested by the ED on money laundering charges in September, 2020.

The ED’s probe is based on a case registered by CBI in January, 2019 into the alleged irregularities in the grant of six high-value loans worth around Rs 1,575 crore to five firms of the Videocon Group between June, 2009 and October, 2011.

These loans were later termed as non-performing assets, resulting in wrongful loss to ICICI bank and wrongful gain to the borrowers and accused persons, the ED said in its complaint, adding that the total misappropriation is to the tune of Rs 1,730 crore as of April 26, 2012.

The national agency said that NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) was incorporated on December 24, 2008, with Deepak Kochhar, Venugopal Dhoot and Saurabh Dhoot as its first directors. Before resigning from the company, a year later, Mr Dhoot allotted 19,97,500 warrants to Deepak Kochhar at the rate of Rs 10 per warrant, on an initial payment of Re 1 per warrant.

The complaint stated that despite knowing that Mr Kochhar is closely associated with the Mr Venugopal, the Chairman and Managing Director of Videocon Industries Ltd, Ms Kochhar had neither disclosed this fact nor recused herself from the sanctioning committee of ICICI Bank, while sanctioning the loan to Videocon.

It further said that Mr Kochhar’s flat situated at CCI in Mumbai, was purchased from the proceeds of crime for a mere Rs 11 lakh, when the actual value of the property was Rs five crore. The bail application was filed on merits and reserved for order, last month.

Senior Advocate Amit Desai and Dadhichi Mhaispurkar, Advocates for the applicant, argued that an Appellate Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act had exonerated him on November 6, 2020, when it dismissed the ED’s plea to confirm the attachment of their assets.

Ms Kochhar stated that while there were 11 accused, only Deepak was arrested. The ED submitted that these were the proceeds of crime. Moreover, the trial is not likely to begin anytime soon.

Special Judge under the PMLA took cognisance of the ED’s investigation complaint against all the accused in the case on January 30 and summoned them for the offences under Section 4 (money laundering) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The Special Court held that Chanda Kochhar had prima facie misused her official position in granting loans to the accused Videocon group of companies and received illegal gratification, through her husband Deepak Kochhar. In February, Ms Kochhar appeared before a Special Court and filed for bail. The Court allowed her application on a cash surety of Rs five lakh. ILNS/SNG/RJ

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