ICICI Bank profit halves as bad loan provisions surge

Devin Lawrence
May 9, 2018

While Chanda Kochhar sat on the credit committee that approved the loan to Videocon, there are allegations of conflict of interest in her husband's brother, Singapore-based Rajiv Kochhar, performing debt-restructuring work on errant corporate borrowers from ICICI, including Videocon.

ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar sprang a surprise following the bank's board meeting on Monday. A lookout notice was issued against ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, husband Deepak & Videocon Chief Venugopal Dhoot in April 2018.

ICICI Bank reported its smallest quarterly profit in two years on Monday as stricter RBI rules forced the country's third-biggest lender by assets to account for more bad loans. "ICICI Bank will continue to do so".

In addition, Sharma said at the press briefing that Kochhar has been making all her disclosures in accordance with the regulatory guidelines under the Companies Act and the Banking Act.

However, Chanda Kochhar refused to offer any clarifications, preferring only to repeat that the Board had already made its stand clear. In 2016, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had reportedly questioned ICICI Bank's loan disbursement to Videocon, but since then there has been nothing as there has been no material investigation by the RBI in the matter, which by itself is shocking. This raised conflict of interest and propriety issues.

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It can be noted that the ICICI Bank board had come out with a statement supporting Kochhar on the eve of the news getting out in the media.

The Income-Tax Department has questioned Deepak Kochhar, husband of MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar in connection with its ongoing investigation into investments by two Mauritius-based entities in Kochhar's NuPower Renewables Private Ltd a few weeks before ICICI Bank gave a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to the Videocon Group in 2012. "Going forward, ICICI Bank's strategy will be anchored around three key anchors: Preserve, Change, Grow", Kochhar said.

The balance is with: Central government/state governments/President of India 0.22 per cent; Individual shareholders holding nominal share capital up to Rs 2 lakh 6.13 per cent; Individual shareholders holding nominal share capital in excess of Rs 2 lakh 0.84 per cent; NBFCs registered with RBI 0.02 per cent; Any others - OCBs 10.12 per cent. The broader market closed with a near 1 per cent gain.

There are series of allegations of impropriety at ICICI Bank with respect to extending loans to some companies and enjoying reciprocal benefits. The investments from Ruia's son-in-law's firm into NuPower started in December 2010. This loan too was later classified as bad loans. Moreover, there is no clarity over the alleged Rs 64-crore loan (unsecured fully convertible debentures) given to NuPower by Supreme Energy, which was 99.99 per cent owned by Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot at that time.

The bank said it is hoping to bring down its net NPA level to 1.5 per cent and take the provision coverage ratio to 70 per cent by March 2020.

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