The Appellate Tribunal ordered that the nature of the properties will not be altered by the Kochhars and also directed the ED to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing in February.
The status quo was ordered after Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, on the instructions of Kochhars, gave an undertaking that the nature of the properties attached by ED will not be altered by Kochhars till the next date of hearing in the Tribunal.
Appearing on behalf of ED, Additional Solicitor General of India S V Raju vehemently demanded that the Kochhars also give an undertaking that they (Kochhars) will not seek advantage of the order of ED’s appellate authority in any criminal proceedings.
Alternately, Raju also demanded that the order of ED’s adjudicating authority be stayed till further orders. The federal agency’s adjudicating authority, last month, dismissed the attachment of properties belonging to Chanda Kochhar, former managing director of ICICI bank and her husband Deepak Kochhar.
Strongly opposing the demand made by ED, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal contended that ED cannot seek to obtain a “gag order” against Kochhars on what they would submit before a criminal Court of law. Aggarwal further averred that the appellate Tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to pass any directions in this regard.
The Tribunal Chairman orally questioned the ASG how the Tribunal can predict the line of argument(s) to be raised by the respondents (Kochhars) before a criminal Court.
Ordering status quo, the appellate Tribunal has asked ED to respond on the issue of maintainability of its appeal. The federal agency, by February, will have to explain as to how its appeal is maintainable. The appeal filed by ED has been admitted, the Chairman of the appellate Tribunal verbally informed both the parties. A copy of the order is yet to be issued by the Tribunal.
Earlier, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal along with advocate Rohan Jaitley opposed ED’s appeal on grounds of maintainability. Amongst the various grounds raised by him, Aggarwal argued that neither has the appeal been filed by the “appropriate authority” nor a copy of the appeal has been “deliberately” served to Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar.
Elaborating, Aggarwal said that the email on which ED sent an intimation of appeal to Chanda Kochhar is incorrect.
In its 800 page order, the agency’s adjudicating authority in November had held that ICICI Bank’s Rs 300 crore loan to Videocon International Electronics (VIEL) in September 2009 was never declared a non-performing asset and was in line with the bank’s credit policy.
The order further held that the loan was repaid, and so there was no question of a loss and that Chanda Kochhar was just one of the members on the loan sanctioning committee and the decision to sanction loans could not have been taken by her individually.
Refusing to confirm the attachment of Kochhars’ properties by ED, its adjudicating authority also found no force in ED’s allegation that a loan was given by ICICI bank to Videocon Group following which an alleged kickback of Rs 64 crore was paid to Deepak Kochhar.
The CBI’s investigation into criminal conspiracy, cheating and other charges against the accused are ongoing.
According to ED, Rs 64 crore out of a loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned by a committee headed by Chanda Kochhar to Videocon International Electronics was transferred by the company to NuPower Renewables, owned by her husband, just a day after the bank disbursed the money in September 2009.
NuPower Renewables generated net revenue of Rs 10.65 crore utilising the “tainted funds”, it had said, putting the total proceeds from the alleged transaction at Rs 74.65 crore. The ED had also claimed that the Kochhar family acquired an apartment in Mumbai from the Videocon Group at a price much below the market rate. The total value of assets thus acquired, which it termed as “proceeds of crime”, was Rs 78.15 crore, the EDhad said.
During her questioning by the ED last year, ChandaKochhar had denied wrongdoing. She said loan approval was a collective decision and not that of an individual. Deepak Kochhar, who is currently in judicial custody, has also repeatedly denied all allegations.