Former chief of Indian bank and her husband arrested over alleged fraud

Chanda and Deepak Kochhar detained after allegations of multi-million dollar fraud

Chanda Kochhar, former ICICI Bank chief. Reuters
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The former chief executive 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 New Delhi.

Ms Kochhar stepped down as chief executive 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 alleged that Ms Kochhar engaged in a criminal conspiracy in awarding Videocon a loan equivalent to 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 weeks after the loan was granted.

The bureau said the former bank chief approved 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 bureau said.

Ms Kochhar was also questioned in 2018 about a $2 billion fraud at Punjab National Bank.

She was summoned along 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 $2bn loan from PNB and was also accused of money laundering, witness intimidation and destroying evidence before fleeing to the UK.

He lost an effort to resist extradition from Britain last month.

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

Updated: December 24, 2022, 4:17 AM