The fallen banking genius: What went wrong with Chanda Kochhar?

Chanda Kochhar

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Chanda Kochhar was the first woman to head an Indian bank. However, from being the India Inc’s poster woman to getting booked by the CBI linking with granting loans to the Videocon Group and having a lookout notice issued against her, the former ICICI Bank chief’s collapse has been appallingly quick which shocked the entire nation.

The journey from an ordinary girl to being an extraordinary CEO

Chanda Kochhar, a former CEO and MD, a mother of two young children, and a brilliant woman with an enthralling career of 34 years was born and brought up in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Chanda then shifted to Mumbai to follow educational demands and pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hindu College. She completed her cost accountancy course from the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. Following that she completed a master’s degree in Management Studies graduation from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Mumbai.

Amidst the partition of 1947, her family lost their land and wealth which resulted in Chanda’s mother becoming her sole inspiration and strong support system. Chanda was the first woman to introduce the concept of the consumer credit market and the most noticeable thing was that even the banking sector was foreign about it.

Chanda started her working career by collaborating with industrial credit and Investment Corporation of India, as a management credit. In 1984, she joined the ICICI (Industrial and Investment Corporation of India) as a management trainee. Thus, she grabbed a hike in the positions following her remarkable leadership skills.

Chanda has some extraordinary achievements named after her and has been awarded for the same. She has been appreciated and awarded with the Wockhardt Gold Medal for Excellence in Management Studies along with the J. N. Bose Gold Medal in Cost Accountancy. The awards are mentioned below:

Under her leadership, ICICI Bank won the “Best Retail Bank in India” award in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005 consecutively.
In the year 2002, the bank was rewarded with an “Excellence in Retail Banking Award.” Also, the awards were rewarded by the Asian Banker.
In 2010, Kochhar was honored with the Padma Bhushan Award (the third highest civilian honor by the Government of India).

  • Chanda Kochhar has been awarded many more prizes and featured in several business magazine lists for ‘Most Powerful Women.

Below we have compiled the rise and fall of her career-life:

1984Joins ICICI Ltd.
1990sWas at the peaks of her career in ICICI
2006-2007Leads bank’s corporate and International banking business
2007-2009Serves as Jt. MD and CFO
2009Takes charge as MD & CEO
2012The bank was associated with the Videocon Group
2016Whistle-blower complaints against her husband
2017The group was declared as NPA
2018Steps down from her position of CEO

Misconduct that hogged the headlines for months

It came to notice that Mrs. Kochhar allegedly favoured Videocon Group in the lending practices and ICICI bank had stated that it would assign a special investigation for this case. The Indian Express first reported that Videocon Group promoter Vinugopal Dhoot supplied crores of rupees allegedly to Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) on 29th October 2018. NRPL is a firm established by Vinugopal and Chanda Kochhar’s husband, Mr. Deepak Kochhar, and two relatives. The money was delivered 6 months after the Videocon group got Rs 3,250 crore as a loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.

According to the reports, this Videocon account was announced as an NPA (Non-profitable Account) in 2017. It had also come to notice that similar transactions had taken place between Essar Group and Kochhar, which was also classified as NPAs.

In January 2019, the Kochhars and the industrialist Venugopal was named in a CBI FIR for cheating and defrauding ICICI Bank. All of them were charged with offenses punishable under Section 7 (taking gratification), Section 120B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC and 13(2) (criminal misconduct) read with 13(1)(d) (pecuniary advantage) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Following the CBI action, the Enforcement Directorate lodged a complaint against Chanda Kochhar in connection with loans disbursed by the bank to the Videocon Group.

‘Termination for cause’

In early 2019, Chanda Kochhar was found guilty. Justice BN Srikrishna Committee found her fraud and violation of the ICICI Bank’s Code of Conduct. The Committee added, she violated the framework for dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties and breached the Indian laws, rules, and regulations. Following the conflict, the ICICI bank termed her resignation as, “Termination of a cause,” which involved discarding her future entitlements- unpaid amounts, unpaid bonuses, and medical benefits.

In 2016, Kochhar came under the allegations of multiple revenues and law enforcement agencies for corruption and misconduct against a complaint from Arvind Gupta, an investor in ICICI bank and Videocon group as well. Arvind Gupta sought an enquiry against Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot. The allegations came into the spotlight after the Indian Express confirmed a web of transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot. Initially, the ICICI Bank gave Chanda Kochhar a clean chit. After which, a whistleblower raised a complaint against her and a letter written by Deepak disclosed to the Board confirmed his dealings with Dhoot which resulted in an enquiry meeting. It was during this time period that Kochhar resigned as CEO in October 2018. The bank reversed the bonuses paid to Kochhar between April 2009 and March 2018 which was a million-dollar amount.

Also Read : The 16 Most Successful Women Entrepreneurs in India

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