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Venugopal Dhoot offers to turn approver in Videocon ICICI Bank loan fraud case after CBI arrest

business | Dec 26, 2022 12:06 PM IST

Venugopal Dhoot offers to turn approver in Videocon-ICICI Bank loan fraud case after CBI arrest


After Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar were arrested on Friday (December 24), the CBI nabbed Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot early on Monday in the Rs 3250-crore Videocon-ICICI Bank loan fraud case. Sources have told CNBC-TV18 that Dhoot wants to turn an approver in the case.

After former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, and her husband Deepak Kochhar, were arrested, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) nabbed Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot on Monday, December 27, for alleged irregularities in a Rs 3,250-crore loan that Videocon got from ICICI Bank in 2012. Sources have told CNBC-TV18 that Venugopal Dhoot has offered to turn an approver in the case.

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The investigating agency can tell the court that an accused has expressed the wish to turn an approver and the agency will benefit in terms of proving its case with the accused help, only once the chargesheet is filed and charges are framed. Once the court is convinced that the accused can be useful if allowed to turn an approver, it grants the permission.

The accused can offer to turn an approver and can seek some leniency during custodial interrogation.

What’s the case?

In the case file, CBI has said between June 2009 and October 2011, ICICI Bank sanctioned loans of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group companies. According to CBI, the loans were in violation of the country’s banking laws and policies. The agency is investigating a quid pro quo arrangement between Venugopal Dhoot and Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar. According to the CBI, Dhoot allegedly invested Rs 64 crore in NuPower Renewables (NRL), owned by Deepak Kochhar, after receiving the Rs 3,250-loan from ICICI Bank. NRL was established in 2008 with Deepak Kochhar, V.N. Dhoot and Saurabh Dhoot as directors of the company. Later, the Dhoots resigned from the company.

At a Mumbai court on Monday

Advocate Vikram Chaudhary, representing Deepak Kochhar on Monday, said the CBI hasn't explained what it means by “non-cooperation,” the term which the agency used as the ground for arrest.

Chaudhary told the court that even when Deepak had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate and was in jail for six months, not once was he questioned by the CBI. He said Chanda Kochhar was not the only member on the loan sanctioning committees and there were proper checks and balances in place.

Chaudhary said the Kochhar couple got arrested after all these years at a time when their son is set to get married on January 15, pointing out that all this is staged.

Meanwhile, advocate Amit Desai, representing Chanda Kochhar, said the bank has informed the prosecution that the said loans were repaid much before the FIR was filed and no wrongful loss was caused to the bank. Desai said both Chanda and Deepak carried documents with them in anticipation of what the CBI might need for its investigation. He said Deepak carried over 2,500 pages of documents whereas Chanda carried an explanation on the workings of ICICI Bank, but the CBI did not accept these document. "How can CBI claim non-cooperation," he asked.

Meanwhile, advocate Ladda, representing Dhoot, seeking bail or interim bail for his client, said the loans were sanctioned and have been repaid with interest. He demanded that CBI show prima facie that these loans were bribes.

Dhoot's lawyer said the former got a notice via email on Saturday (December 24) night and he immediately responded and informed the CBI that he was unwell and undergoing treatment. He told the CBI that he would appear on Monday (December 27), which he did.

"Dhoot reached CBI office at 9 am. Immediately his RT-PCR was done and he was informed that he was placed under arrest," his advocate said.

He also said Dhoot was present in the CBI office for two days before this and every time the agency has asked him to appear, he has done so. "During all these appearances, not even once the agency said that any of the answers given by Dhoot were incorrect. How can the CBI now say that Dhoot was evasive and was giving false answers," his advocate said.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor said it is false to say there is no outstanding amount as the same was Rs 1,000 crore. To which, the defence counsels said this is factually incorrect.

The public prosecutor said it recently issued three notices to Dhoot asking him to appear but he had failed to comply. The Mumbai court asked the investigating officer if he wanted to add anything, to which he said for a fair probe they want to confront all three accused. On December 16, we asked all three accused to appear on December 19 and they didn't. On December 22, Dhoot appeared, but the Kochhars didn't. And on December 23, the Kochhars appeared, but Dhoot did not.

As per the CBI, in Dhoot's remand application, the second loan sanctioning committee — of which Chanda was a member — sanctioned a Rs 750-crore loan to Videocon.

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