The rise and fall of exiled ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar consist only of a script. She joined ICICI bank in 1984 as a management trainee, and through her diligence, determination and talent for crisis management, she broke the so-called glass ceiling. She was elected to the highest position in 2009. Her appointment to the post led Shikha Sharma, an industry giant senior to Kochhar in her rankings, to leave the group.
The Rise of Kochhar
At 47, Kochhar became the youngest CEO and the first woman to head a central Indian bank. Kochhar is known for leading the lending institution where she served until 2018, out of several crises, including a run on the bank in 2003 amid rumours of a liquidity crisis. She was chosen to helm the bank after the exit of KV Kamath.
The poster child of India Inc. maintained a tight hold on the bank’s affairs, consolidating affairs and troubleshooting irritants when they came. She also led a clean-up drive to improve the bank’s asset quality after the RBI red-flagged many non-performing assets (NPA) on the bank’s balance sheet.
Padma Bhushan Chanda Kochhar
Kochhar, also a champion of several social causes, has a string of awards to her name. She made the ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ list by Forbes International for seven consecutive years and the ‘Most Powerful Women in the Business list by Fortune India for five straight years.
She was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. However, the most significant honour was bestowed upon her by the UPA Government in 2010 when Kochhar was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s highest civilian award, for achievements in the field of business.
An advocate for multiple social causes, Kochhar has won numerous awards. She was named to Forbes International’s list of 100 most influential women in the World for the seventh year in a row, and Fortune named her to India’s list of the most influential women in business for five consecutive years.
She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Women in the World. But her most incredible honor came in 2010 from the UPA Government in recognition of her contributions to the business field, and Kochhar received India’s highest civilian honor, Padma Bhushan. In 2019, it was reported that the NDA Government was considering a proposal to reclaim the coveted prize from a disgraced banker.
The fall of Kochhar
Ironically, despite her troubleshooting skills, Kochhar could never pull herself out of Videocon’s chaos after losing the ICICI board’s trust. Kochhar was arrested by CBI on December 23, along with her husband. The CBI arrested “fraud and misconduct” in a loan made by her ICICI Bank to her Videocon Group in 2012.
The loan failed, and Kochhar, 59, resigned from a private bank in 2018 after accusing her of giving preferential treatment to Videocon Group, where her husband had business dealings.ICICI Bank later said it would treat her resignation as a “termination for cause” and refuse to provide pension benefits.
Bombay High Court on November 10 said deemed the termination and denial of benefits as “valid” after Kochhar filed a case seeking post-retirement benefits whistleblower restated allegations that Kochhar and her husband benefited from a Rs 3.25 crore loan given to Videocon. The arrest was made on December 23 after a year-long investigation.
The CBI has named Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, Nupower Renewables, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd, and Videocon Industries Limited as accused in the FIR registered under IPC sections related to criminal proceedings and Prevention of Corruption Act. In the chargesheet, the CBI alleged that Dhoot invested crores of rupees in Deepak Kochhar’s Nupower Renewables after the Videocon Group received the loan.