Agencies to probe use of shell companies for Rs 64 crore loan

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India’s top investigating agencies had shared information among themselves last year on aspects that may require to be probed after getting a complaint that a loan given by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group was a part of a quid pro quo arrangement.

Chief among the concerns of the agencies was the use of shell companies, if any, in the disbursement of a Rs 64 crore loan by Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon to NuPower Renewables Private Ltd., a company jointly promoted by Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar, the husband of ICICI Bank managing director Chanda Kochhar.

The correspondence among the agencies indicated probing the angle of money laundering.

Dhoot floated NuPower as an equal venture with Kochhar in 2008, lent Rs 64 crore to the company and eventually transferred his stake to Kochhar. The transfer of the holdings, which took place six months after the Videocon Group got a loan of Rs 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank, “intrigued” the sleuths.

The fact that the `64 crore loan was never returned also raised questions with the agencies.

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Top sources in the agencies told ET that the “possible areas of probe” were determined and shared among themselves. It is reliably learnt that the balance sheets of NuPower have been scrutinised.

NuPower has come under the scanner of the Income Tax Department. A notice has been issued to the company under Section 131 (power regarding discovery and production of evidence) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The Central Bureau of Investigation began a preliminary enquiry two months ago – based on “source information” —into dealings between Kochhar, the Videocon Group and “unknown bank officials.”

Both Kochhar and Dhoot will shortly be called for examination by the CBI, which has recorded statements of ICICI Bank officials involved in the disbursement of the loan to the Videocon Group.

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