ICICI Bank Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar has been asked to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry announced on May 30, 2018. Meanwhile, ICICI has also appointed Sandeep Bakhshi as COO( Chief Operating Officer) and whole time director of the bank. Bakhshi has been appointed for a period of 5 years, subject to regulatory approvals, according to reports.
Sandeep Bakhshi will handle all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the bank but will report to Chanda Kochhar, who will continue in her role as MD and CEO of ICIC Bank. During this period of her leave, the COO will report to the board.
Sandeep Bakhshi is the Managing Director (MD) and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and now ICICI’s NS Kannan will become the chief executive of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance company subject to regulatory approvals, as per Bank’s statement.
Board’s decision to send Kochhar on leave is volte-face to the stance of ICICI after nearly 4 months of backing her amidst a flurry of charges. The Board had gone for an investigation only after a whistleblower came to light with the second round of charges against her.
The latest arrangement, which appears to be temporary, is being done to facilitate a fair probe without any hindrance, the bank was quoted as saying by Economic Times.
Allegations against Chanda Kochhar relate to a Rs 3,250 crore loan granted to the Videocon Group in 2012. In March, a whistle-blower alleged that Deepak Kochhar, husband of Chanda Kochhar benefited from the loan granted to Videocon.
Videocon’s Venugopal Dhoot had an investment in NuPower Renewables founded by Deepak Kochhar. The bank had then rejected the accusations of nepotism and reposed “full faith” in the managing director.
Last month, ICICI board had constituted an independent external probe after allegations surfaced that she had violated Bank’s code of Conduct. Media said that retired Supreme Court Judge BN Srikrishna would head the probe.