Assets of Deepak and Chanda Kochhar attached by ED not proceeds of crime: PMLA adjudicating authority

The PMLA has not confirmed the attachment of assets, worth Rs 78.15 crore, by the ED. The acting chairperson of the authority, Tushar V Shah, in a 798 page order said that the assets of Deepak Kochhar do not qualify as proceeds of crime under PMLA.

In a relief to the former ICICI Bank chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar, the adjudicating authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Friday said their assets attached by the Enforcement Directorate do not qualify as proceeds of crime.

The PMLA has not confirmed the attachment of assets, worth Rs 78.15 crore, by the ED. The acting chairperson of the authority, Tushar V Shah, in a 798 page order said that the assets of Deepak Kochhar do not qualify as proceeds of crime under PMLA.

The ED had provisionally attached movable and immovable assets of Kochhar including the flat at CCI Chambers, land, cash, plant and machinery at Windfarm Projects located in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. The agency is likely to challenge the order before the appellate authority.

However, Vikram Hegde, advocate on record at Supreme Court of India said ED’s appeal might not amount to much because the post of the chairman or a judicial member at the appellate tribunal has been vacant for the last one year. “Technical member of the appellate authority is likely to pass status quo order at best”, he said.

The order of the adjudicating authority said that the possibility of a trial taking a long time cannot justify ED’s apprehension that the assets are being concealed or transferred.

The ED in its complaint has alleged that a committee headed by Chanda Kochhar sanctioned a loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) in 2009. Out of this amount, it alleged, at least Rs 64 crore was transferred by to NuPower Renewables, a company owned by Kochhar’s husband on September 8, 2009, a day after the loan was disbursed by the bank.

However, the order of the adjudicating authority has termed the transfer of Rs 64 crore from Venugopal Dhoot’s firm to NuPower Renewables as a “genuine business investment contemplated much ahead in time of sanction of the loan”. The order also said that the Rs 300 crore loan to VIEL has been repaid and there has been no loss to ICICI Bank.

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