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ICICI Bank: Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till completion of enquiry, Sandeep Bakhshi appointed COO

Bakhshi, who is the MD & CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company since August 1, 2010, will report to the Board during the period of Kochhar's leave.

Written by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: June 18, 2018 22:33 IST ]
Kochhar’s leadership has come under a cloud after

Kochhar’s leadership has come under a cloud after allegations of a conflict of interest over loans made to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot had business links with her husband Deepak Kochhar.

ICICI Bank on Monday announced the appointment of Sandeep Bakhshi as Wholetime Director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) designate as its MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar decided "to go on leave till the completion of the inquiry" in relation to the allegations levelled against her.

Bakhshi, who is the MD & CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company since August 1, 2010, will report to the Board during the period of Kochhar's leave.

"His appointment as COO will be for a period of five years, subject to regulatory approvals. He will take over as the COO from June 19, 2018, or on the date of regulatory and other approvals, whichever is later," the bank said in a statement.

"Bakhshi will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the Bank. All Executive Directors on the Board of ICICI Bank and the executive management will report to him. Bakhshi will report to Chanda Kochhar, who will continue in her role as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank."

The bank, in the statement, said: "In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Chanda Kochhar has decided to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry as announced on May 30, 2018."

The bank on May 30 announced that its Board has decided to institute a "comprehensive enquiry" to look into an anonymous whistleblower's complaint alleging that Kochhar had not adhered to provisions relating to "code of conduct" of the bank.

In a regulatory filing, it had said the scope of inquiry would be comprehensive and include all relevant matters arising out of and in the course of examination of the facts and wherever warranted, "use of forensic/email reviews and recordal of statement of relevant personnel, etc."

The inquiry would also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close.

Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Board of India sought responses from the company and Kochhar on alleged non-compliance of the "erstwhile 'Listing Agreement' and the 'Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015'".

Kochhar’s leadership has come under a cloud after allegations of a conflict of interest over loans made to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot had business links with her husband Deepak Kochhar. The allegations first surfaced in 2016, but the ICICI Bank board gave her a clean chit in April.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, and the US SEC are probing the alleged lapses involving Chanda Kochhar and her family members. Sebi has powers to impose a penalty but not demand the resignation of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar if she is found guilty in the Videocon loan case.

There have been allegations of involvement of Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon Group on a quid pro quo basis. It was alleged that Videocon pumped money into NuPower Renewables, a firm owned by Deepak Kochhar. Some companies of Videocon group secured over Rs 3,000 crore in loans from ICICI Bank, along with a group of 19 other banks, in 2012.

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