Look out circulars have been issued to all airports against CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, her husband and businessman Deepak Kochhar and promoter of the Videocon group of companies, Venugopal Dhoot. A lookout circular (LOC) ensures that the person concerned cannot leave an airport without informing the authorities first.
The LOC was sent at the behest of the CBI which last week filed a preliminary inquiry case against Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot. Rajiv Kochhar, brother of Deepak Kochhar and promoter of Avista Advisory Services, was detained at Mumbai airport when he was leaving for Singapore for a business trip.
The CBI is investigating whether Venugopal Dhoot is the promoter of Mauritius-based company DH Holding Renewables Limited that invested in NuPower Renewables, a company promoted by Deepak Kochhar.
The allegation is that each time ICICI bank gave a loan to the Videocon group (Rs 3,250 crore and Rs 660 crore), a corresponding sum of Rs 325 crore and Rs 66 crore was invested by this Mauritius firm into NuPower Renewable.
Media reports earlier this month highlighted an alleged involvement of Chanda Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon group on quid pro quo basis. 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 said her husband Deepak Kochhar is an indirect beneficiary of the loan granted to Videocon.
The pre-emptive move on the part of the investigative agency comes in the wake of a series of economic offenders fleeing the country. Nirav Modi refused to return to India from Hong Kong despite repeated notices by the CBI, Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate. Lalit Modi has invested millions of pounds to get a residency status in the UK and Vijay Mallya is digging his heels in, also in the UK. Arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari is also believed to be in the UK.