Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till probe gets over

Gladys Abbott
June 19, 2018

Though the bank defender Kochhar, it yielded to investor and regulatory pressures and announced an independent probe into charges against Kochhar earlier this month and asked her to go on indefinite leave.

It isn't clear when Justice Srikrishna will submit his report.

"Bakhshi will report to Chanda Kochhar, who will continue in her role as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank", said the bank in a regulatory filing with bourses, adding that during her period of leave, the COO-designate would report to the Board. The ICICI Bank CEO is now on a planned leave.

Bakhshi has also been the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

Bakhshi, who now heads ICICI's life insurance arm, will take up a newly created position of chief operating officer at the bank for a five-year term beginning June 19, pending regulatory approvals, the bank said in a statement late on Monday. Kannan is the bank's executive director.

"Bakhshi will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the Bank".

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The directors tried to soften the blow by saying in a statement that Bakhshi will report to Kochhar.

'In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Ms. Chanda Kochhar has made a decision to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry as announced on May 30, 2018.

Bakhshi joined the bank in 1986 Bakhshi is an ICICI Group veteran and joined the bank in 1986.

Over the last two months, sources say the CBI has examined loan documents and documentation pertaining to the role that Dhoot played in helping set up energy firm NuPower (run by Kochhar's husband, Deepak Kochhar).

This related to a Rs 3,250 crore loan extended by the bank to the Videocon Group in 2012.

Kochhar, 56, who has been CEO of ICICI Bank, India's third-biggest lender by assets, since May 2009, has faced allegations of favouring Videocon Group, a consumer electronics and oil and gas exploration company, in the bank's lending practices. The report terms the present structure as a "safe middle-ground" but did not attempt to second guess the board on its succession plans. It's unclear what led to this move, but questions are raised on the board's hasty decision to clear Kochhar of all charges without a probe. Shares of ICICI Bank rose by 3.61 per cent on reports of a shuffle in its top management. "She [Kochhar] should have either quit the bank or chose to be in charge", said an analyst with a foreign brokerage, on condition of anonymity.

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