Women Talk

The rise and fall of Chanda Kochhar

Trainee to first woman CEO of an Indian bank to Padma Bhushan awardee to convict


When the powerful banker and ICICI chief executive Chanda Kochhar got Padma Bhushan in 2011, no one imagined the reversal she will face 11 years later. 

The once shining star of magazine covers Chanda Kochhar was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) this week on Friday along with her husband, Deepak Kochhar, in connection with a loan fraud case involving the Videocon Group and some bank officials.

It was a case of alleged irregularities in a loan of over Rs 3,000 crore which was given to Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group when Chanda Kochhar was the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank. 

The CBI had earlier booked Chanda Kochhar, her husband, and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group, along with companies Nupower Renewables, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd, and Videocon Industries Limited, as accused in the FIR registered under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

WHAT IS THE CASE?

The case is related to the alleged quid pro quo by the former powerful banker, Chanda Kochhar, who was the CEO and MD of ICICI Bank at the time, for a Rs 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group in the year 2012. 

It was alleged that in exchange for the loan, Venugopal Dhoot who was the Videocon promoter allegedly invested in Nupower, which is owned by Deepak Kochhar.

So apparently, Dhoot invested Rs 64 crore in Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL) and transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust, which is managed by Deepak Kochhar through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.

THE RISE OF POWERFUL BANKER CHANDA KOCHHAR

Chanda Kochhar joined ICICI as a trainee in 1984, rose through the ranks, and became its CEO and MD making her the first woman to lead a major bank in India. She was also an aspiring woman and a role model for several others.

Not only this, she was honoured as the most powerful businesswoman in India by Forbes in its list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2013’ and was also featured in the 2015 edition of Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Chanda Kochhar who is known as a true pioneer in the finance sector, always believed and told women to fight against their unconscious inhibitions and to fight for success in life. She also believed in “converting challenges into opportunities.” With her leadership, ICICI bank has greatly expanded and she was credited with navigating the bank out of troubled waters following the 2008 global recession.

CHANDA KOCHHAR – AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Retail Banker of the Year By the Asian Banker 2004
Business Woman of the Year By the Economic Times 2005
Rising Star Award By Retail Banker International 2006
Most Powerful Women in Business By Fortune Magazine 2005
World’s 100 Most Powerful Women By Forbes Magazine 2009
Most Powerful WomenHall of Fame By the Business Today 2011
50 Most Influential People in Global Finance By Bloomberg Markets 2011
ASSOCHAM Ladies League Mumbai Women of the Decade Achievers By ASSOCHAM 2014
World’s 100 Most Powerful Women By Forbes Magazine 2013
25 Most Powerful Women in India By India Today 2013
100 Most Influential People in the World By Time’s Magazine 2015
100 Most Powerful Women in Finance By Forbes Magazine 2016
High and Mighty Power List By India Today 2016
Asia’s 50 Power Businesswoman List By Forbes Magazine 2016
World’s Most Powerful Women in Finance By Forbes Magazine 2016
B.W.’s Most Influential Women’s List By Business World Magazine 2017
Woodrow Wilson Award By Woodrow Wilson Centre 2017

VIDEOCON GROUP LOAD CASE FRAUD – TIMELINE OF EVENTS UNFOLDED

Oct 2016: An ICICI Bank and Videocon Group investor, alleges loan irregularities but the RBI’s investigation does not find anything meaningful in the allegations made.

March 2018: Word spreads again when a whistleblower complained against the bank officials and its top management alleging a delay in recognizing issues in 31 loan accounts. Weeks after, the CBI filed an internal inquiry and probed Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar. 

April 2018: The ICICI Bank board backed Chanda Kochhar and denied allegations against her. However, after a few weeks, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFO) seeks approval to probe the Videocon loan granted by ICICI Bank from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. 

May and June 2018: Fresh allegations were made against Chanda Kochhar by the whistleblower. ICICI Bank launches an independent probe after suspecting some wrong-doing. The investigation remains pending as Kochhar goes on indefinite leave. 

Read more: Charles Sobhraj- The Bikini Killer who shook the World

July 2018: Kochhar is asked to submit her reply to the show-cause notice by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). 

October 2018: Chanda Kochhar resigns and officially steps down as the MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, and the board approves her early retirement request. 

January 2019: FIR filed against Deepak Kochhar, Chanda Kochhar, and Venugopal Dhoot by the CBI over alleged irregularities in the loans sanctioned to the Videocon Group in 2012. Soon, the investigation revealed that Chanda Kochhar while sanctioning these loans violated the bank’s code of conduct. 

February 2019: Lookout notice against Chanda Kochhar issued by the CBI. 

January 2020: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) provisionally attaches assets worth over Rs 78 crore of Chanda Kochhar and her family. 

September 2020: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrests Deepak Kochhar in a case related to money laundering. 

November 2020: The chargesheet was filed against Chanda Kochhar by Enforcement Directorate (ED).  

March 2021: Deepak Kochhar is released on bail on a personal bond of Rs 3 lakh.

May 2022: New FIR against Chanda Kochhar filed by the CBI. 

December 23, 2022: The CBI arrests Chanda Kochhar along with her husband Deepak Kochhar. 

Description: When the powerful banker and ICICI chief executive Chanda Kochhar got Padma Bhushan in 2011, no one imagined the reversal she will face 11 years later. 

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