A charge sheet filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) last month in the ICICI Bank bribery scandal involving its former managing director Chanda Kochhar reveals how her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot had appointed drivers, gardeners, office boys, and other junior employees as dummy directors in their companies.
Statements of these employees, which are now part of the charge sheet, were recorded by the ED. Some of them have claimed that they never even heard about the companies in which they were made directors.
HT has seen the charge sheet, filed on November 3. The ED charge sheet says Kesharmal Nensukhlal Gandhi, who worked as a cleaner at Dhoot’s bungalow in Ahmednagar since 1994, was director in IRCL (Indian Refrigerator Company Ltd). He told ED that he was “neither aware about the company IRCL, nor aware about his directorship in IRCL and others. He was also unaware about transactions carried out by the company”. Gandhi told ED he used to sign documents on the directions of Dhoot and hadn’t attended any board meetings of the company.
Another employee, Laxmikant Sudhakar Katore, who worked as a gardener in M/s Videocon International from 2001 till 2016, told ED he was unaware about his directorship in various companies and 50% shareholding in RCPL (Real Cleantech Pvt Ltd). Katore received only his salary – Rs10,000 from the company.
Similarly, one Vasant Sheshrao Kakade, who worked with Videocon since 1998 and looked after administration, banking, filing of income tax and service tax returns, was made director in more than 100 companies of Videocon group, and was made director in IRCL. He was also director of Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL) from 2008 till 2011 but never saw any documents before signing them.
Deepak Kochhar too appointed people who had nothing to do with the business of his companies as directors.
For instance, he made his childhood friend Anand Mohan Dalwani director in six companies. Dalwani told ED he used to sign documents only on Kochhar’s instructions.
Chanda Kochhar’s brother’s wife Neelam Mahesh Advani was made director in various companies of Deepak Kochhar including – Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd (PCSPL) – but she was a dummy director like others and a “benami person holding shares of these companies”, ED has said.
An office boy in Deepak Kochhar’s company – Echanda Urja Pvt Ltd – Sharad Shankar Mhatre, who also takes care of Kochhar’s father and often works as a driver for the family, was made director in PCSPL and made to sign various documents even though he was not aware about the business/transaction of these companies.
The Central anti-money laundering agency has presented a strong argument that Rs64 crore investment by Videocon group into Deepak Kochhar’s company NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) was bribe money.
“No board resolution was passed by board of directors of SEPL, IRCL, RCPL and VIL (Videocon Industries Ltd) for investment of Rs64 crore in NRPL and assigning of loans to IRCL and Real Appliances Pvt Ltd later. Also, no documents were created among these companies for the same,” ED charge sheet.
Kochhars’ lawyer Vijay Aggarwal has slammed the ED charge sheet saying the allegations are baseless and that the charges will not stand scrutiny in court of law. Dhoot could not be reached for comment.