Sebi may summon Chanda Kochhar soon

Board to discuss coordinated efforts with govt, RBI


Capital markets regulator Sebi may soon summon ICICI Bank’s on-leave CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband with regard to a probe into alleged regulatory lapses with regard to his business dealings, officials said Sunday.

Besides, some other top officials of the bank, as also from Videocon, which allegedly benefitted due to its association with Kochhar’s husband, are also likely to be called for their personal hearings regarding charges against them that may lead to the bank and its embattled chief being slapped with several crores of rupees in fines and other penal actions including ban from markets and directorships.

According to top officials, the multi-agency probe into ICICI Bank and business dealings of the Kochhar family will also be discussed by Sebi’s board next week as it has been felt that coordinated efforts are required to be taken by Sebi, RBI and the government in this case due to its systemic importance.

The bank and Kochhar have been maintaining there has been no regulatory violation on their part and that she was not aware of specific business dealings of her husband.

The board of Sebi has got representatives from the finance and corporate affairs ministries as well as the Reserve Bank, besides its own whole time members and independent members.

Among others, this case is already being looked into by the RBI and the Corporate Affairs Ministry.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had earlier issued show cause notices to ICICI Bank, Kochhar and others after its preliminary examination favoured initiating adjudication proceedings against them for alleged violation of listing disclosure norms regarding ‘conflict of interest’ in business dealings of her husband with Videocon Group.

Kochhar is believed to have maintained that she had no information about her husband’s business dealings, while the bank has also given similar replies.

However, the regulator is of the view that Kochhar or the bank cannot feign ignorance in this matter as they have been regularly listing the name of her husband Deepak Kochhar as a ‘related party’ in the regulatory filings of the company, including in the latest annual filing submitted to the US markets regulator SEC, which is incidentally also probing the case, officials said.

The bank has maintained the same stance in its submissions to the SEC as well, officials added.

While the US regulator may eventually agree to settle the matter on payment of some settlement fees, officials said it is unlikely to be the case here in India even though the bank has indicated such a willingness to both the regulators.

The bank is being probed for a number of serious allegations including about disclosure lapses regarding business dealings of the CEO’s husband and brother-in-law that are suspected to be directly or indirectly linked to the bank or its big borrowers, officials said.

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