After pressure from yet another anonymous whistleblower, ICICI Bank on Wednesday said it will institute an independent enquiry to examine the merit of the complaint against its CEO Chanda Kochhar on alleged “conflict of interest” while giving loans.
The bank did not reveal the content and timing of the anonymous whistleblower's complaint.
This comes exactly two months after the issue first came to light in March through a blog written in October 2016 by its first whistleblower, a shareholder of ICICI Bank, who levelled charges of nepotism on Kochhar.
The allegations suggest that quid pro quo on Kochhar’s part as ICICI bank had granted loans to Videocon group, whose promoter Venugopal Dhoot had investments in NuPower Renewables, which is owned by ICICI Bank chief’s husband Deepak Kochhar.
“The Board of Directors, at its meeting held on 29th May, 2018, decided to institute an enquiry to be headed by an independent and credible person, to examine and enquire into an additional autonomous whistleblower complaint, disclosing certain information, alleging in substance that the bank’s CEO and MD had not adhered to provisions relating to “Code of Conduct” of the bank,” ICICI Bank said in a filing to the stock exchanges on Wednesday.
It will also look at the legal and regulatory provisions relating to the “conflict of interest” over a period of time, as also alleging quid pro quo in the course of her work in dealing with certain customers/borrowers of the bank.
Scope of the enquiry
The scope of the enquiry will be comprehensive and include all relevant matters arising out of and in the course of the examination of the facts and whatever warranted, use of forensic/email reviews and recordal of statements of relevant personnel, etc. The enquiry would also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close, the bank added.
ICICI Bank’s board has mandated its Audit Committee to take all further actions in the matter to operationalise this decision – including in particular, appointment of an independent and credible person as Head of the Enquiry, terms of reference and the period of the Enquiry, among other things.
The bank further said, “The Audit Committee will also, in consultation with the Head of the Enquiry, make arrangements to assist him with independent legal and other professional support as may be required.”
The bank has not named anyone as the head of the enquiry, in the exchange filing.
So far, Sebi has started proceedings against ICICI Bank Ltd for non-disclosure of information in the matter of alleged conflict of interest in the grant of loans to the Videocon group.