ICICI Bank seeks recovery of bonuses from Chanda Kochhar

The ICICI Bank filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking the recovery of bonuses that were given to its former Managing Director and CEO Chanda Kochhar, PTI reported.

Kochhar was sacked in January 2019, about six months after she had resigned. An investigation is currently underway into a money laundering case involving the bank and the Videocon Group.

ICICI Bank had said that an independent inquiry found Kochhar had violated the code of conduct. The bank had also said it would stop the payment of unpaid benefits, including bonus, to Kochhar and retrieve all bonuses paid from April 2009 until March 2018.

“ICICI has filed a suit seeking recovery of amounts towards the claw back of bonuses given to the petitioner [Kochhar] from April 2006 to March 2018 pursuant to the termination of the petitioner’s services,” the bank said in its affidavit. A claw back is a provision where an employer can take back incentives-based pay if an employee behaves poorly.

The affidavit was filed in response to a plea filed by Kochhar questioning her sacking. “On December 8, 2016, Kochhar executed a claw back agreement with the bank pursuant to which ICICI is entitled to a return of the previously paid variable pay or deferred variable pay from the petitioner in the event of a determination of a gross negligence or an integrity breach by Kochhar,” the affidavit said.

“The petitioner’s conduct has caused substantial embarrassment to the bank and all the stake-holders, and has led to irreparable reputational loss to the bank,” it added. “The petitioner [Kochhar] deliberately committed violation with a malafide intent to obtain illegal benefits.”

The court will next hear the matter on January 20.

Chanda Kochhar resigned in October 2018 after questions were raised about a Rs 3,250-crore loan that the bank had given the Videocon group in 2012. Six months after the loan was sanctioned, Videocon Managing Director Venugopal Dhoot allegedly provided crores of rupees to NuPower Renewables, founded by Deepak Kochhar. The CBI on January 27, 2019 filed a case against the Kochhars, Dhoot, and others, after carrying out searches at the headquarters of Videocon Group in Mumbai and its offices in Aurangabad, and offices of NuPower. The CBI has alleged that the accused sanctioned the loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with others in order to cheat the private lender.

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