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Matrix Group owner interrogated by Enforcement Director over ICICI- Videocon Loan Case

On Sunday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the third time interrogated the former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and meanwhile convicted Nishant Kanodia, the chairman of Matrix Fertilizer. Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot were deeply questioned by the ED, and after completing the process of interrogation for the day, they left the investigating agency after Sunday midnight. Earlier on Saturday, the ED had the former CEO and MD of ICICI Chanda Kochhar for questioning along with her husband Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot for questions because of their connection with the conflict of interest in which the loan was extended to Videocon Group.

Chanda Kocchar and her Husband Deepak Kocchar were present at the investigating agency before the investors at 11. A.M and Venugopal Dhoot had been before the investigating officer at 2 P.M. While, Chanda Kocchar left the investigating office by half an hour, but Deepak Kocchar and Venugopal Dhoot both were interrogated by the officer for several hours.

Their statements were recorded by the ED, and the documents which were seized by the agency were placed before them during the interrogation process. This move comes just weeks after the ED had registered a criminal case against Deepak and Venugopal over money laundering charges. The case has been registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED had summoned Chanda Kocchar, Deepak Kocchar and Venugopal Dhoot in their quid pro case of worth Rs 3,250 crore on Saturday. The investigation by ED alleges that NuPower Renewables run by Deepak Kocchar had received 64 crore rupees in the year of 2010 through a maze of shell companies from Venugopal in return to this, he received a loan from the ICICI Bank during 2009 to 2011 of amount more than Rs 1,575 crore. While in 2010, the NuPower Company received 325 crore rupees from a Mauritius firm, Firstland Holdings which is acquired by Nishant Kanodia, who is not only the owner of Firstland Holdings but also the son-in-law of Ruia, who is the founder of the Essar Group.

On Friday, the ED had searched the properties related to Chanda Kocchar and Venugopal Dhoot in Mumbai and also in Aurangabad. Due to the money laundering case, the search operation was carried out, the authorities stated. Raids were conducted by the ED on the houses of Chanda Kocchar and in offices. A team of investigators were supported by police and initiated their search operation. The search operation was carried out in 5 offices along with other locations. With Chanda, Dhoot and Deepak, the investigating agency also quizzed Mahesh Puglia, who is the close ally of Venugopal Dhoot and also a relative of the Kochhars.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had released lookout circulars (LOCs) against the former ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda, her husband Deepak, and Venugopal Dhoot –the chairman of Videocon Group.

The official mentioned that the FIR was filed in the case and only then the LOCs were issued. LOCs are very much essential and needed in such cases where economic offenses are found.

The CBI probe alleges that six loans amount to 1,875 crore rupees has been approved to Videocon Group from June 2009 to October 2011, during the time when Chanda Kocchar was the CEO and MD of ICICI Bank, and she was also a key committee member.

Arvind Gupta, who is the shareholder activist in May 2018, had raised the issue about the deals that took place between NuPower Renewables and Videocon Group and had complained to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) that the investment of worth 453 crore rupees from the Essar Group was directed via Kanodia’s Matix Group and its entity, Firstland Holdings.

The criminal case was registered by ED in previous month against Chanda Kocchar, Deepak Kocchar, Venugopal Dhoot and others so as to investigate the irregularities and corrupt practices that were claimed while approving an amount of worth 3,250 crore loan by the ICICI Bank to the firms.

CBI further claims that ICICI bank had sanctioned a loan of worth 1,575 corer rupees to Videocon Group and later changed into non-performing assets (NPA). The CBI also claims that via Dhoot’s Company, Venugopal Dhoot had made investments in Nupower Renewables which is owned by Deepak Kocchar, which were validated by ICICI Bank and cleared.

There were complicated web transactions taking place between the Nupower owner and Supreme Energy owner, the CBI claims.

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