Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Mumbai: Former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar on Friday appeared before a court here in the alleged ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case, and was granted bail.

It was the former banker's first appearance in the court.

On January 30, the special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had summoned Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and other accused after taking cognizance of the charge sheet.

Chanda Kochhar accordingly appeared before the special Judge A A Nandgaonkar. Her lawyers Vijay Agarwal and Rahul Agarwal sought bail for her, arguing that she had been cooperating with the Enforcement Directorate's probe and had visited the ED office in Delhi whenever summoned.

The Central agency has never arrested her in the case, they pointed out.

The judge granted her bail on a bond of Rs 5 lakh and directed that she should report to the ED office whenever required and not leave India without the court's permission.

The court also asked her to surrender her passport to the ED immediately.

"The applicant shall not tamper with the evidence or attempt to influence or contact the complainant, witnesses or any person concerned with the case," the order said.

Deepak Kochhar, who is currently in judicial custody, was also produced before the court.

Dhoot's lawyers said he did not remain present as he had not received the summons.

A prosecution official said they tried to serve the summons to the industrialist, but could not do so as there was no male member present at his house to accept it.

The ED arrested Deepak Kochhar in September 2020 after it filed a case for money laundering based on an FIR registered by the CBI against the Kochhar couple, Dhoot and others.

The ED alleged that Rs 64 crore out of a loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned by a committee of ICICI Bank headed by Chanda Kochhar to Videocon International Electronics Limited was transferred to Nupower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) on September 8, 2009, a day after the disbursement of loan.

It is alleged that this was a quid-pro-quo for sanctioning the loan as NRPL was owned by Deepak Kochhar.

Judge Nandgaonkar, while taking cognizance of charge sheet, had observed that from the material presented by the ED, it appeared that Chanda Kochhar misused her official position in granting loan to Dhoot and Videocon group firms, and "got illegal gratification" through her husband.

The material was sufficient to proceed with trial against the accused, the court had said.