Chanda Kochhar To Go On Leave Amid Conflict Of Interest Probe: ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank CEO and managing director Chanda Kochhar will go on leave until the completion of an enquiry probing allegations of conflicts of interest against her, the bank said on Monday. Sandeep Bakhshi, who heads the life insurance arm of the bank, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for a period of five years, the bank stated in a stock market filing. Mr Bakhshi will report to Ms Kochhar, who will continue in her role as MD and CEO of ICICI Bank. 

Mr Bakhshi's appointment is subject to regulatory approvals. He will take over as COO with effect from Tuesday or on the date of regulatory and other approvals, whichever is later. He will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the bank. During Ms Kochhar's period of leave, the COO will report to the board, the filing further said.

In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Ms. Kochhar has decided to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry as announced on May 30, 2018. The Board has noted and accepted this, the filing further said.

Sandeep Bakhshi is the Managing Director (MD) and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. Prior to this role, Mr. Bakhshi was the Deputy Managing Director of ICICI Bank. Mr. Bakhshi has also been the Managing Director (MD) and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

Earlier on Monday, the Bombay Stock Exchange had askedICICI to respond to media reports that the bank was considering a top level reshuffle. ICICI Bank's shares had ended at Rs.292.50, with a gain of 3.61 per cent on Monday.

The board last month constituted an independent external probe panel after allegations that Ms Kochhar had violated the bank's code of conduct. Media reports said retired Supreme court judge BN Srikrishna would head the probe.

The allegations against Ms Kochhar relate to a Rs. 3,250 crore loan granted to the Videocon Group in 2012. In March, a whistle-blower alleged that Ms Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar and her family members benefited from these dealings. Videocon's Venugopal Dhoot had an investment in NuPower Renewables founded by Mr Kochhar. The bank had then rejected the accusations of nepotism and reposed "full faith" in the managing director.

On May 30, the bank announced that its board had decided to institute a "comprehensive enquiry" to look into a complaint that Ms Kochhar had not adhered to the "code of conduct" of the bank. As more allegations surfaced, a multi-agency probe was launched against Ms Kochhar.

Ms Kochhar began her career with the ICICI Limited in 1984 and was elevated to the board of directors of ICICI Bank in the year 2001. She served as the joint managing director and chief financial officer from 2007 to 2009, and was elevated to managing director and CEO in 2009. She has been responsible for the bank's diverse operations in India and overseas since then, according to the bank's website,

Source - NDTV 

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