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ICICI matter: Fin Min looking at BBB member Pradeep Kumars stint at Avista Advisory

New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) The finance ministry is looking at the professional assistance provided by newly-appointed Banks Board Bureau member P Pradeep Kumar during his stint at Avista Advisory Group, which is caught in the controversy involving ICICI Bank and Videocon Group, sources said.

Rajiv Kochhar, brother-in-law of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, is the founder of Singapore-based Avista Advisory.

Avista Advisory was involved in restructuring of loans of some ICICI Bank borrowers, which in turn has raised concerns over propriety and conflict of interest against the backdrop of Videocon matter.

Till recently, Pradeep Kumar -- a former Managing Director of State Bank of India (SBI) -- was an advisor to Avista Advisory.

Sources said the Department of Financial Services (DFS) is examining the post retirement professional assistance provided by Kumar during his stint at Avista Advisory.

Various aspects, such as whether Kumar discharged his duties at Avista only in an advisory role or whether he was also part of the executive decision-making process, would be looked into, they added.

After completing the detailed assessment, DFS, under the Finance Ministry, would hand over the report to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for its consideration, sources said.

Last week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), quizzed Rajiv at multiple occasion, which is probing the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan controversy.

The agency has registered a preliminary probe, naming Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot, Rajiv?s brother Deepak and others, to determine alleged wrongdoing in the sanctioning of a Rs 3,250 crore ICICI loan to the Videocon Group.

Among the companies that are said to have hired services of Avista include Videocon, GTL Infrastructure and Suzlon for restructuring of debt.

ICICI Bank was a lender to all these entities.

Jaypee Group spokesperson confirmed hiring Avista for debt restructuring and said that a fee in line with market practice was paid.

"We wish to state that Avista Advisory was only involved in restructuring of FCCBs of Jaiprakash Associates Ltd and Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd but it was never involved in any loan syndication for any Jaypee Group company.

"Avista has been paid a fee of 0.75 per cent to 1 per cent of the restructured FCCBs, which is as per market standards. Thus the reports linking Jaypee Groups dealing with ICICI Bank via Avista are completely baseless," the spokesperson had said.

Jaiprakash Associates, the flagship firm of the Jaypee Group, has restructured foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) worth about USD 110 million while Jaiprakash Power venture got its debt recast of about USD 225 million. PTI DP RAM MKJ MKJ

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