ED questions Kochhars, Dhoot (Second Lead)

Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Saturday questioned former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot in connection with an ongoing probe into the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning a Rs 1,875 crore loan by the bank to Videocon Group.

The agency questioned them at its office after the Kochhars and Dhoot deposed before the investigators, following summons issued to them.

Chanda Kochhar and her husband appeared before the investigators at around 11 a.m. while Dhoot reached at around 2 p.m.

Chanda Kochhar was allowed to leave after over half-an-hour of questioning, while Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot were quizzed till late night.

The ED recorded their statements and confronted them with documents the agency has seized, an official said.

The ED's action came a day after it carried out simultaneous 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 (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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 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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