Congress questions Modi government’s silence on ICICI bank ‘fraud’

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Mumbai: ICICI CEO Chanda Kochhar at the launch of “Software Robotics” at ICICI Bank Head Quarters in Mumbai, on Sept 8, 2016. (Photo: IANS)

NEW DELHI – In view of fresh allegations levelled by a whistleblower against ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar over fraud loans, the Congress on Monday questioned Modi government’s “silence” and “non-interference” on the issue, asking why it didn’t order a probe.

“Instead of oversight, audit, regulations and protection of interests of account holder’s depositors, stakeholders and shareholders, Modi government is busy protecting its crony friends,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told media persons here.

“Why did the government not order a thorough probe when the news reports and whistleblower’s letters to the Prime Minister emerged as early in March this year?

“What explains the complete silence and the declared non-interference of the Modi government in this saga of ICICI Bank frauds?” he asked.

Khera also asked if acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, who himself has been accused of conflict of interest and impropriety, would order an investigation asking every private bank CEP to declare their relationship with any loanee.

Noting that the government itself has admitted that NPAs have risen by 230 per cent – from Rs 2,51,054 crore in March 2014 to Rs 8,31,141 crore in December 2017, he said that lack of oversight and regulatory mechanisms have precipitated into massive bank loot scams worth Rs 61,036 crore and have eroded the trust of the common people in banks.

“The Rs 2,849 crore exposure of the ICICI Bank and the behind the scenes murky deals questions the role of its CEO in one such saga of banking fraud,” he added.

“Media reports and whistleblowers alike have alleged that the ICCI Bank CEO and her family have invested Rs 325 crore in subsidiary of a large consortium – which on record has a loan default and a large NPA.

“After much delay, SEBI has given a show cause notice to the ICICI bank’s CEO and said that it didn’t adhere to its code of conduct, which required the disclosure of any conflict of interest in the case involving Videocon Group and NuPower Renewables, a firm owned by her husband,” he said.

Noting every bank goes through four stages of audit – statutory, internal, and concurrent audits and RBI inspection, he said that despite this, the entire fraud escaped everybody’s attention and sought to know why the audits had not uncovered it.