ICICI Bank board meet underway to decide on Justice BN Srikrishna's appointment

ICICI Bank may send MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar on indefinite leave Report

Mumbai: ICICI Bank Chairman M.K. Sharma has written an email to board members seeking their opinion on whether managing director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chanda Kochhar should be asked to go on indefinite leave until the internal enquiry is concluded, said people in the know. The bank also announced that Chanda Kochhar, the current CEO will proceed on leave till the completion of Videocon case probe.

Kochhar has battled unsavoury attention ever since a whistleblower complaint linked her to irregularities in the sanctioning of a multi-crore loan to the Videocon group.

It can be noted that last month, the board had constituted an independent external probe panel after more allegations had surfaced against Kochhar violating the bank's code of conduct. "Justice Srikrishna is an independent and credible name, who has a good understanding about the financial markets".

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To be sure, the board is yet to sign off on the decision to make the changes, they said. "He will take over as the COO from June 19, 2018, or on the date of regulatory and other approvals, whichever is later", said a statement by ICICI Bank.

N.S. Kannan, now an executive director at ICICI Bank, is set to be the new CEO of ICICI Prudential Life, the bank said. He will assume his new role from Tuesday.

Kochhar is on her "annual leave" right now, the bank had said earlier. He will be assisted by the bank's audit committee, which is headed by independent director Uday Chitale. All the executive directors on the board of ICICI Bank and the executive management will report to him.

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The directors tried to soften the blow by saying in a statement that Bakhshi will report to Kochhar. "Since the events are already recorded and possibly can not be altered, requesting Kochhar to proceed on leave at this point in time may send the wrong signal to stakeholders, especially after the board had showed full confidence and faith in her when the issue first broke out", the report quoted one of the board members as saying. "The announcement from ICICI Bank shows that the current CEO has made a decision to go on leave".

It was alleged that a company related to Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot had invested Rs. 64 crore in NuPower in 2010 and later, the proprietorship of the company was transferred to a trust owned by Mr. Kochhar for Rs. 9 lakh after the Videocon Group received a loan of Rs. 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank in 2012. The accusation was that the bank had sanctioned the loans because of the business relations between the Dhoots and Kochhar's husband Deepak.

Chanda Kochhar has not commented on the issue.

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IRDA INFORMALLY INFORMED "Someone from the bank may also move to ICICI Prudential Life to head it in the interim".

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