KOCHHAR Quits As ICICI’s MD & CEO Ending Her 34 Yrs relations With The Bank

CHANDA Kochhar, widely recognised for her role in shaping retail banking in India, has stepped down as the Managing Director & Chief Executive of the Mumbai headquartered ICICI. Jodhpur born Kochhar, 56, considered a high profile banker who had grown with the ICICI, says goodbye to her banking career amidst the recent investigation related to Videocon bad loans.   She was forced by the board of ICICI Bank to take indefinite leave. Sandeep Bakshi, a veteran banker who was the interim Managing director and CEO, became the full time Managing Director and CEO for five years till October 3, 2023 after her resignation. After her father’s demise, she along with her family, moved to Mumbai from Rajasthan. After graduating in 1982, she studied cost accountancy from Institute of Cost Accountants of India, and later did a Master of Management Studies degree of University of Mumbai from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies; Kochhar joined the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) in 1984 as a management trainee. During her early years at ICICI, she handled project appraisal and monitoring and evaluated projects in industries such as textile, paper and cement. The private lender on Thursday informed the stock exchange that it had accepted her request for early retirement. CICI further said that the “enquiry instituted by the board into some allegations against her remain unaffected due to her premature retirement and her certain benefits will be subject to the outcome of the probe. She  left India’s  third private lender following an enforced indefinite leave amid allegations of loans for favours and conflict of interest. The announcement by ICICI Bank on Thursday afternoon drove the bank’s stock higher by 5.8% to ₹320.90.Livemint recalls her predecessor K V Kamath who had aggressively converted a development financial institution focused on long-term lending into a consumer-focused commercial bank. As part of his schemes, Kochhar was assigned multiple critical roles, including as head of retail banking and the bank’s chief financial officer. In 1993, after the financial institution got the central bank’s approval to convert into a new-generation private bank, Kochhar was on the front lines, recruiting from 40 different organizations, selecting a core banking software platform and even designing the bank’s first cheque books. In 2000, Kamath enlisted Kochhar to build the bank’s retail business from scratch. She was overseeing the bank’s corporate business accounting for about 50% of the institution’s balance sheet, but in six years under Kochhar leadership the retail business accounted for an estimated 67 pr cent of the bank’s balance sheet. Her tenure has not been without controversy: while ICICI Bank’s net profit improved from ₹878 crore in June 2009 to ₹1,650 crore in December 2017, bad loans ballooned from ₹9,416 crore to ₹46,038 crore during the same period. She came under the scanner of Serious Fraud Investigation Office and was summoned in March 2018 in connection with loans extended to fugitive Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group. On 20 March, a whistle-blower complained against the bank and its top management, including Kochhar, alleging a deliberate delay in recognizing impairment in 31 loan accounts between fiscal 2008 and March 2016 to save on provisioning costs and inflate profits by $1.3 billion over eight years. Mint reported this first on 25 June. But what ended her career was the accusation made by a whistleblower to concerned government agencies on granting loans to the Videocon Group as a quid pro quo for the business group’s dealings with her husband Deepak Kochhar.

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