ICICI Bank board appoints Sandeep Bakhshi as whole time director, COO

Marco Green
June 19, 2018

The bank named Sandeep Bakhshi as its whole-time director and chief operating officer (COO) for a five-year tenure. Kochhar, meanwhile, has tried to stay out of the public eye and is now on a planned vacation, according to the bank's spokesperson. Bakhshi has not been made either the CEO or the MD of the bank. It's unclear what led to this move, but questions are raised on the board's hasty decision to clear Kochhar of all charges without a probe.

However, Kochhar has volunteered to go on leave till the completion of the probe, instituted to examine allegations of conflict of interest against her.

A complaint by an anonymous whistle blower has accused Chanda Kochhar of conflict of interest and quid pro quo while dealing with "certain borrowers" of the bank.

Earlier in the day, shares of ICICI Bank rose as much as 4 per cent, amid reports of reshuffle of top management. It is likely that she may be asked to step down, the report says.

In the first letter, Gupta alleged quid pro quo in ICICI Bank's Rs 3,250 crore plus Rs 660 crore loans to Venugopal Dhoot-owned Videocon Industries. Videocon's founders had an investment in a renewable energy company founded by Kochhar's husband. Following the second letter, ICICI Bank chose to constitute an independent probe to look into these charges.

Sources said this matter would come up for discussion in the bank's board meeting scheduled to be held on June 27.

Kochhar, who has been in sharp focus over the loans ICICI sanctioned to the Videocon Group, is now on leave but has more than year in her as CEO under the contract. The bank also says that an employee's husband's brother isn't deemed a relative under the Companies Act; therefore, a disclosure wasn't necessary.

On May 28, the ICICI Bank board had issued a statement that it had reviewed the bank's internal processes for credit approvals and found them robust, reposing full faith in Kochhar. "Since the events are already recorded and possibly can not be altered, requesting Kochhar to proceed on leave at this point in time may send the wrong signal to stakeholders, especially after the board had showed full confidence and faith in her when the issue first broke out", the report quoted one of the board members as saying.

Retired Supreme Court justice B.N. Srikrishna has been appointed to head the enquiry into the matter.

Last month, ICICI Bank said it would set up an inquiry committee to examine a whistleblower's complaint against Ms. Kochhar for violating the code of conduct of the bank. And now, the ministry of corporate affairs is also investigating NuPower and others firms related to this loan controversy.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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