Deepak Kochhar withdraws plea in Delhi HC to quash FIR in money laundering case

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Deepak Kochhar withdraws plea in Delhi HC to quash FIR in money laundering case

Deepak Virendra Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, Wednesday withdrew from the Delhi High Court his plea seeking quashing of FIR in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case. Justice A J Bhambhani allowed him to withdraw the petition, in which he has also sought interim bail on ground of his present medical condition as he is admitted to Apollo Hospital here after being tested positive for COVID-19.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Kochhar, submitted that he wishes to withdraw the petition. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), represented through Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, filed a status report raising preliminary objection on the maintainability of the petition.

It contended that although the ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) was recorded in Delhi, the offence was committed in Mumbai and the jurisdictional court is special judge, Mumbai and appeal would lie before the Bombay High Court. The court had earlier issued notice to the ED and asked it to file a status report on the issue of medical ground and territorial jurisdiction.

Kochhar’s counsel had earlier sought quashing of the ECIR registered by the ED saying it was bad in law and that he was not informed about the grounds of arrest in writing. He had also sought to declare as illegal the order of a special judge, Mumbai, remanding Kochhar to ED custody and to set aside further remand orders.

The ED had arrested Kochhar on September 7 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case probe. Kochhar, who is currently in judicial custody, was brought to Delhi by ED for the purpose of questioning during which period he tested COVID-19 positive.

His counsel had earlier contended that in an act of gross illegality, he was brought to Delhi by the ED from Mumbai purportedly for questioning and detailed in lock-up, leading to him getting infected by coronavirus disease after which he was admitted to NCI, Jhajjar. Later, he was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Delhi. The ED had earlier told the Mumbai court that the investigation has revealed that on September 7, 2009, the ICICI bank sanctioned a loan worth Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL).

Kochhar’s wife was the chairman of the bank’s sanctioning committee when this loan was given to VIEL, it had contended. The ED had filed its case pursuant to an FIR registered by the CBI against Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and others.

ED has accused the Kochhars and their business entities of “illegal sanctioning of loans amounting to Rs 1,875 crore to the Videocon Group of companies”..

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