The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issue lookout circulars against previous ICICI Bank Managing Director & CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Managing Director Venugopal Dhoot in the ICICI Bank-Videocon dishonesty case.
A CBI official said that after the preliminary investigation last year, look out circulars had been issued against Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot for all airports across the country. The circulars have been invigorated now, the official said, along with a Lookout circular (LOC) for the first time against Chanda Kochhar.
A lookout circular is issued to keep a check on a traveler who is wanted by the police. It is mostly used in migration desks at international borders, including airports. Unless the period is stated, look out circulars have a validity of a year as per a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
An FIR was registered last month against Kochhar involved in an alleged quid pro quo for extending a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group. Kochhar was a part of the committee that authorized the loan to the company. In turn, promoter Venugopal Dhoot was one of the first investors in Deepak Kochhar-promoted NuPower Renewables.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating possible Forex violations. The ED also wants to examine assets that the couple built and possessed, which includes their South Mumbai apartment.
A senior lawyer said that the LOC was unnecessary in this case and said that Chanda Kochhar cannot be the club in the same category as those who have fled the country on charges of economic offenses. “She has been a reputable figure in financial circles and none of the charges have been proven to be true. There is a lot of assumption here,” the lawyer said.
This step has come so as the Kochhars and Dhoot stay in India unlike Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, and Mehul Choksi, who all fled the country. Last year, CEOs of public sector banks were empowered to request for issuance of lookout circulars against the suspect even before enforcement agencies file FIRs against them. After the PNB fraud, the Finance Ministry had asked Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to collect passport details of all the borrowers who had taken loans exceeding Rs 50 crore.