Days after ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar was asked to go on an indefinite paid leave, the tax sleuths are now probing the complex transactions linked to Kochhars family residence in South Mumbai. According to a report in The Indian Express, the acquisition deal of the house involving firms linked to Videocon Group has come under the lens of Income Tax Department. This comes after Chanda Kochhar, CEO and MD of ICICI Bank was accused of quid pro quo in sanctioning of loans worth Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group. Whistleblower and investor Arvind Gupta had alleged that loans benefitted Chanda's husband Deepak Kochhar. Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot had an investment in Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Renewables.
ICICI Bank has initiated its own probe and on Monday announced that Chanda Kochhar will be on leave until the investigation is over. According to the daily, the Income Tax department is probing the acquisition of the Kochhars' flat at 45, CCI Chambers CHS Limited, following which it informed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) about its findings. Tax officials have found that their residence was bought by a financial firm,Credential Finance, set up by Deepak Kochhar and his brother, Rajiv Kochhar in mid 1990s. In 1996-97, the firm Credential Finance Ltd filed for liquidation due to financial stress and, hence, was suspended from trading.
In 2009, a firm with links to the Videocon Group, Quality Appliances Pvt Ltd was nominated to take over the flat from Credential Finance against the final settlement of an amount to Videocon Industries Ltd (VIL). After 2010, the same flat was re-acquired by Deepak Kochhar at a sum lower than the market price.
The tax authorities have reportedly recorded the statements of all shareholders and directors of Quality Appliances and Credential Finance. Deepak Kochhar told the daily that the property has belonged to him since the beginning and that he has given clarifications regarding the same to the tax authorities. Reiterating what he said, Venugopal Dhoot too said that Deepak Kochhar had owned the flat since more than 20 years and it was never mortgaged to VIL.
Quality Appliances that took over the house from Credential Finance is now called Quality Techno Advisors Pvt Ltd, according to Registrar of Companies (RoC) documents. Its registered office is in 618, Nariman Point in Mumbai, which is also the office of Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd. Quality Appliances was set up with Vikas Salunke and Kavishwar Patil - who have been directors of multiple Videocon firms - holding 5,000 equity shares each in 2008. Its registered office in Mumbai's Andheri was also the head office of Videocon Telecommunications Ltd before changing to 45, CCI Chambers in South Mumbai in 2009-10.
Quality Appliances or Quality Techno Advisors Pvt Ltd was fully owned by Deepak Kochhar under Quality Advisors (Trust) as of March 2017, the report said.