By Prarthana Mitra
Esteemed law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas withdrew its 2016 report that gave a clean chit to former ICICI Bank chief executive Chanda Kochhar, after the bank referred to the report in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. The disgraced banker now stands at the centre of a nepotism case concerning her ties, favours, and conflicts of interest with the now-defunct Videocon group.
During the course of the ongoing probe, ICICI Bank cited the report as the basis of the board’s confidence in Kochhar back in March, when the whistle-blower first accused her of nepotism. “The law firm submitted its report in December 2016 stating that it had found no evidence of nepotism and conflict of interest on the part of Ms. Kochhar and accordingly the matter was treated as closed,” ICICI Bank said.
Here’s what happened
In 2016, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas was engaged in investigating the allegations of nepotism and conflict of interest against her and subsequently ruled out any foul play. The report based on this inquest, is no longer valid in light of the recent allegations against Kochhar, said legal officials representing the firm on Wednesday.
The recent allegations which first surfaced in March 2018 were denied with voluble confidence by board members of the ICICI Bank, a discrepancy that the filing sought to address. According to the board’s statement on Tuesday, it was this report that drove them to issue a bill of confidence in the then CEO and managing director Chanda Kochhar, who had, by then, disbursed loans to the loss-making Videocon group (where her husband worked). Former Chairman M K Sharma had vouched for Kochhar’s integrity at the time, and dismissed any quid pro quo with regard to the loans given to the Videocon group.
However, it is worth noting that after additional allegations against Kochhar came to light and further information revealed to the bank by the whistle-blower, the board of directors announced a fresh inquiry in May 2018, following which the law firm decided to withdraw its previous report.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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