The securities and appellate tribunal (SAT) has granted interim relief to ICICI Bank’s former managing director and chief executive officer (MD&CEO) Chanda Kochhar, saying that Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) “acted in haste in fixing a date for hearing without supplying the requisite documents to the appellant (Ms Kochhar).”
SAT directed Ms Kochhar to file before SEBI a fresh application, indicating with clarity and precision the documents sought for inspection, within two weeks. After getting such a request, according to the tribunal, SEBI should either provide inspection or pass an appropriate order giving reasons why the appellant could not be provided inspection or a copy of the documents.
Moreover, SEBI will have to give an opportunity to the former MD&CEO of ICICI Bank to hear the application, SAT said, and asked the market regulator to take a decision keeping in mind the Takano versus SEBI case of the Supreme Court.
The case pertains to the allegations of ‘conflict of interest’ in approval of loans given by ICICI Bank to the Videocon group. SEBI had issued a show-cause notice to Ms Kochhar on 23 May 2018. ICICI Bank had got the matter investigated by justice Srikrishna and SEBI sent a new show-cause note after justice Srikrishna's report came. Ms Kochhar was accused of giving a loan to Videocon in lieu of personal benefit when she was the MD & CEO of ICICI Bank.
Ms Kochhar had submitted a detailed response to the notice on 24 August 2018. A personal hearing had been held on 19 November 2018 and the appellant had thereafter submitted written submissions on 19 December 2018. The matter was then reserved for orders. In November 2020, Ms Kochhar received an amended show-cause notice by email. It was alleged that the amended notice was incomplete, as it was not accompanied by any enclosures, annexures, exhibits or appendices.
On 26 February 2021, SEBI had directed ICICI Bank to produce the Project Indus report, along with its appendices, annexures, exhibits in entirety. The lender had failed to provide the documents sought by SEBI, the SAT order mentioned.
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