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Bank CEO arrested with husband over alleged fraud in India

Chanda Kochhar

The former CEO of India’s ICICI bank was arrested along with her husband on Friday over alleged fraud amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar were arrested by federal authorities, Indian media reported, after failing to co-operate with investigators, who had summoned them for questioning in Delhi.

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Ms Kochhar stepped down as CEO in 2018 following allegations she favoured the Videocon group, an Indian electrics conglomerate, in loans later linked to a company owned by her husband.

The Central Bureau of Investigations alleges that Ms Kochhar engaged in a criminal conspiracy in awarding VideoCon a loan equivalent of more than $392 million.

A whistleblower alleged that her family members benefited from the dealings, with the then-Videocon chief reportedly investing in a renewables company owned by her husband just weeks after the loan was granted.

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The CBI says the former bank chief sanctioned private loans in order to “cheat ICICI bank” along with her husband.

Loans given to Videocon between 2009 and 2011 “were in violation of the credit policy of the bank,” the CBI said.

The former CEO was also questioned in 2018 over a $2 billion fraud case at Punjab National Bank.

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Ms Kochhar was summoned with the head of Axis Bank after investigators suspected involvement in what was the country’s biggest banking scandal.

Celebrity jewellery designer Nirav Modi fraudulently obtained a $2 billion loan from PNB and was also accused of money laundering, witness intimidation and destroying evidence before fleeing to the UK.

He lost a bid to resist extradition from Britain last month.

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Investigators said Ms Kochhar and her Axis peer had exposure to at least one of the masterminds behind the operation.

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