Arvind Gupta, the shareholder activist who raised an alarm over deals between Videocon Group and Deepak Kochhar's firm NuPower Renewables Ltd has levelled fresh charges against the Kochhar couple in his letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a letter dated May 11, Gupta has said NuPower received round-tripped investments of Rs 453 crore from Essar Group, routed through an organistion called Matix Group and its holding entity Firstland Holdings Limited, both based in Mauritius. These firms are owned by Nishant Kanodia, husband of Smiti Ruia, who is the daughter of Essar Group vice-chairman Ravi Ruia.
In March 2016, Gupta had written a letter to the Prime Minister alleging wrong dealings between the bank, through Chanda Kochhar, and the Videocon Group to benefit her family.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Gupta alleged that the Ruia brothers funded the NuPower and its subsidiary through their son-in-law Nishant Kanodia and nephew Anirudh Bhuwalka during December 2010 to March 2012 by subscribing to compulsorily convertible preference shares and equity shares.
His letter states that Nishant Kanodia invested in NuPower via Firstland Holdings - the holding company of Matix Group (co-promoted by Kanodia).
The ICICI Bank refused to comment on the fresh charges levelled by Gupta. However, on Essar Steel Minnesota loans, it said that, "a consortium of seven Indian banks including ICICI Bank had sanctioned loans to the entity. Also, large US funds gave loans to the company. Out of the total debt of the company of USD 1.02 billion, ICICI Bank's share was less than 25 per cent."
"ICICI has been instrumental in funding Essar Group's global ventures. In course of time, these funds became non-performing asset and had to face lot of litigations. A part of funds did come back, but substantial amount of fund still remains NPA," Gupta said.
Gupta has claimed that ICICI Bank had favoured Ruia brothers of Essar group for 'round-tripping' investments into Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Renewables - a firm which is at the centre of current Videocon loan probe.
"ICICI has been instrumental in funding Essar Group's global ventures particularly taking over of Essar Oil in United Kingdom, Essar Steel Minnesota (USA) and Algoma Steel (Canada).
In course of time, these funds also became non-performing asset (NPA) and they had to face a lot of litigations. A part of these funds did come back, but to my assessment, a substantial amount of fund still remains NPA," Gupta told ANI.
"These financers in India didn't insist to ensure that the bankers get the full money that they owe to the banks. Nor did the ICICI bank initiated any action and asked them to first pay off our money and then get away. All these transactions do need to be investigated. It needs to be seen how these funds were transferred," he added.
Adding to this he said that there is something unusual and fishy in this whole case as to how investments go into a company which is running into losses.
"ICICI bank looks like a one-person show. Out of the nine committees they have, Chanda Kochhar is present on six of them. Their work culture needs to be examined," he added.
An Essar Group spokesperson termed the letter as motivated and said: "Essar does not have any business interest in Firstland Holdings Ltd." "Moreover, as we understand, AMW Motors Limited Mumbai has not made the investment of Rs 197 crore in Nupower, contrary to the claims made in the letter. Essar has been dealing with ICICI since 1980. All transactions with them have been made in a very open and transparent manner, and in accordance with all applicable laws of the land," the spokesperson added.
Matix Group also refuted the allegations.