Good times … Sad times…. fallen angel Chanda Kochhar
NEW DELHI: Fallen angel Chanda Kochhar, who headed the ICICI bank as its CEO for years, has been charged by the CBI with criminal conspiracy in relation to huge irregularities in loan disbursals by the bank at her behest. Besides Chanda, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon head Venugopal Dhoot and two more individuals have been named in the FIR as accused.
They have been accused of wrong-doing in a Rs 2,350crore financial misappropriation. As per the case, Dhoot was given a loan by ICICI with prompting from Chanda as the bank’s CEO. The irregularities in the disbursal of the huge loan came to public notice in March 2018 after a whistleblower came up with an expose of the misdeeds in the bank. Following this, the CBI, SEBI, RBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission of the US launched separate probes.
As per the case, Kochhar and family accepted huge gratifications from Dhoot for releasing the loans without sufficient guarantees.
While the companies to which huge loans were advanced got closed down soon enough — hinting at mischief — and meanwhile the Kochhars themselves floated new companies. Companies closed means the loans advanced to them turn into non-performing assets. Bank of Maharashtra, one of the public sector banks, reported net loss of Rs 3,760crore for quarter III of this financial year.
India’s NPAs are currently of the order of trillions. System-wide gross Non-Performing Assets of Indian banks rose to Rs 10.30 trillion, as per data released by RBI this Friday. This was a 9.3 per cent increase over the figure the previous years. In this, the share of public sector banks was put at Rs 8.95trillion, some 14.6 per cent more than the figure last year.
Whisleblower Arvind Gupta said what has come to be known so far about banking irregularities, mismanagement and financial misappropriation was just the tip of the iceberg — meaning Indian banks have been taken for a sweet ride by powerful individuals and businessmen, with the result that billion of public money went down the drain. The RBI and other tracking agencies kept quiet, while political bosses pulled the strings from behind and made hay.
Fact is, political and bureaucratic corruption got mixed with individual greed and greed of banking bosses. Huge amount thus swindled have been transferred through shady channels to tax-free deposit havens abroad, and India can do little about getting this money back to India.
Luckily for those accused of such scams, the cases can go and on for decades, through hair-splitting arguments and use of money power, and finally would come to nothing.
While most of these scams happened during the UPA periods, the NDA period headed by Narendra Modi moved in a slow manner to fix the guilty or take steps to get the money back from them. The main blame is on the Union finance ministry, headed by the likes of P Chidambaram and Arun Jaitley. Either they were complicit in such fraudulent activities, or did not show the determination to set things right. IHN-NN
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