Amid the ongoing controversy involving private banking major ICICI Bank and Videocon Group, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Udit Raj on Monday revealed that he had written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2012 itself regarding fraudulent activities being undertaken by the bank.
"Beneficiaries of the Rajiv Gandhi Swasthya Shilpi Bima Yojana received their incentives via ICICI Lombard, who was the middleman between them and the government. The latter used to transfer money to the bank, which would then transfer the same to beneficiaries. However, in Rajasthan, 13,000 fake beneficiaries were discovered for weather-based crop insurance. I had written to the CBI in 2012 itself regarding the same, but no action was taken," Raj told ANI.
Furthermore, the BJP leader hinted at the involvement of erstwhile chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), RK Nair, and questioned why a case involving crores of rupees was subject to a mere fine of Rs. 10 lakh.
"RK Nair was aware of what had happened. However, he let off ICICI with a mere fine of Rs. 10 lakh, in spite of the huge sum of money involved. Later, he was made the director of the bank. Crores of public money were swindled, but only a mere fine was imposed," he said.
Raj further demanded the immediate arrest of Nair and ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and urged thorough interrogation in the matter.
"I had tabled this matter in Parliament in 2013 and 2014, but no action was taken. She (Chanda Kochhar) has a very strong nexus and is seen as a public icon, which has made it very difficult to reach her. This matter has been uncovered solely due to the detection of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam involving Nirav Modi. This is a very big scandal, and I feel both Chanda and Nair should be arrested and interrogated immediately," he said.
For those unversed, media reports earlier in March highlighted an alleged involvement of Chanda Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon group on quid pro quo basis in 2012.
Soon after, Indian Investors Protection Council Trustee Arvind Gupta said the evidence in the case pointed out that Chanda Kochhar was herself a beneficiary of the loan, and her husband Deepak Kochhar is an indirect beneficiary of the loan granted to Videocon.
"Venugopal Dhoot transferred money from Videocon Group to Supreme Energy, in which he had 90 percent shares. He promoted it and later transferred it to Deepak Kochhar. Deepak Kochhar then transferred his shareholdings to Pinnacle Energy. Pinnacle Energy was a trust formed by Kochhar family. Now they are saying they sold their shares of NuPower Renewables much before. NuPower Renewables was a special purpose vehicle made to revert allegations in the future. ICICI never gave it a loan, but the company was benefited," Gupta told ANI.
Last week, the Income Tax (IT) department had sent a notice to NuPower Renewables, owned by Chanda Kochhar's husband.
Soon after this, the CBI questioned few ICICI Bank officials as part of a preliminary inquiry to find out if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank's issuance of the Rs. 3,250-crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012.
The investigative agency has also been interrogating Chanda's brother-in-law Rajeev after allegedly unearthing evidence suggesting his involvement in the matter, along with Mahesh Pugalia, a close aide of Videocon Group chief Venugopal Dhoot, and Umanath Venkat Naik, the Director of NuPower Renewables.