Mumbai: ICICI Bank on Monday asked Chanda Kochhar, its managing director and CEO, to go on leave till the completion of an inquiry into a whistleblower's allegations of conflict of interest related to loans to a couple of borrowers.
Bakhshi, a prominent name in ICICI's top management, has been the Managing Director and CEO, of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company, since August 01, 2010.
Morgan Stanley says Bakhshi will likely be a front-runner for the CEO job as Kochhar's current term ends in early 2019, although board could also look for external candidates. All the executive directors on the board of ICICI Bank and the executive management will report to him.
Bakhshi, who now heads ICICI's life insurance arm, will take up a newly created position of chief operating officer at the bank for a five-year term beginning June 19, pending regulatory approvals, the bank said in a statement late on Monday.
"Bakhshi will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the Bank". He will take charge as the COO on June 19 for a five-year term.
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The bank, in the statement, said: "In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Chanda Kochhar has made a decision to go on leave till the completion of the enquiry as announced on May 30, 2018". Last month, the market regulator queried ICICI and Kochhar in connection with a loan to Videocon Group. According to Jefferies, the transition from Kochhar to Bakshi should be smooth considering that Bakshi has been associated with the ICICI bank group for 32 years, working across its diverse verticals (both corporate & retail) and other subsidiaries. The accusation was that the bank had sanctioned the loans because of the business relations between the Dhoots and Kochhar's husband Deepak.
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So the board saved face on Monday when it said Kochhar would be going on leave pending the inquiry. The Videocon promoter allegedly loaned Kochhar Rs 64 crore through his company Supreme Energy and then transferred its ownership to Deepak Kochhar for Rs 9 lakh. The board didn't see any conflict of interest in Kochhar not recusing herself from the credit committee that had cleared the Videocon loan.
On June 1, the bank had said Kochhar had proceeded on her planned annual leave. A former judge of India's apex court, B N Srikrishna, is appointed to lead the independent investigation into the whistleblower's complaint.