Videocon loan case: Sebi may seek forensic probe of ICICI Bank disclosures

New Delhi, Apr 22: Markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is mulling getting a forensic examination done on financial statements and disclosures made by ICICI Bank in past few years amid a controversy over alleged conflict of interest involving the lender’s CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband.
According to top officials, the capital markets regulator will also consult the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the matter to avoid any intra-regulatory jurisdiction issues.
The forensic examination will focus on various disclosures made by the top private sector bank over the past few years, vis-a-vis the clarifications submitted by ICICI Bank to the stock exchanges in reply to queries made in the backdrop of a controversy regarding certain loans extended as part of a consortium to Videocon.
Officials said the examination will also cover the disclosures made at the time of Kochhar being appointed as CEO and Managing Director of the bank for the first time in 2009.
If required, Sebi will also seek details from the bank regarding various business dealings involving its top officials, including Kochhar, to look into alleged conflict of interest.
Sebi has been looking into the matter for any possible disclosure and corporate governance-related lapses at ICICI Bank, but has not come across any concrete proof so far, the officials said.
A probe by RBI in 2016 also did not find any ‘quid pro quo’ vis-a-vis ICICI Bank with regard to the loan extended to Videocon by the consortium which had the private sector lender as ‘a small member’, they added.
ICICI Bank landed in the controversy following allegations about a Rs 32.5 billion (Rs 3,250 crore) loan to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot has been accused of having business dealings with NuPower Renewables, operated by Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar.