ED questions Chanda Kochhar for fourth consecutive day (Lead)

Mumbai, March 4 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday questioned former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar for the fourth consecutive day in the ongoing probe into the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning a Rs 1,875 crore loan by the bank to the Videocon Group.

Chanda Kochhar's questioning began at ED's office around noon. Her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Doot were also questioned in connection with the case.

The Kochhars were questioned for over nine hours while Dhoot's questioning continued till late night.

The ED questioned Chanda Kochhar for the first time on March 1 at her south Mumbai residence along with her husband. On Sunday, she was questioned for the third straight day.

The agency on Sunday also quizzed Nishant Kanodia, chairman of Matix Group and son-in-law of Essar Group co-founder Ravi Ruia, regarding investments made by his Mauritius-based firm Firstland Holdings in NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd, a company run by Deepak Kochhar.

Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot were on March 2 were quizzed till late night in the case.

The ED on March 1 also carried out raids under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at five offices and houses owned by the Kochhars and Dhoot.

The ED started the probe after registering a criminal case under the PMLA in February against the Kochhars, Dhoot and others, taking cognizance of a first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The FIR named the Kochhars, Dhoot and his companies Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd. It also included names of Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewable, a firm controlled by Deepak Kochhar.

The authorities are trying to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved in the sanctioning of the Rs 1,875 crore loan by the ICICI Bank as part of a consortium.

The CBI has alleged the ownership of the two companies changed hands through a complex web of share transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot.

It is alleged that Dhoot invested in NuPower through his firm Supreme Energy, a quid pro quo to loans cleared by the ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the Chief Executive Officer on May 1, 2009.

--IANS

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