The petitioner contended that since ED has failed to file a prosecution complaint- an equivalent of a charge sheet-within the deadline of 365 days, the agency is under legal obligation to release the seized assets.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, counsel for the petitioner, raised a question of law as to whether ED can continue have a seized property despite having failed to file a prosecution complaint (charge sheet) within 365 days.
Raising a preliminary objection at the outset, Advocate Amit Mahajan appearing on behalf of ED said that a similar petition challenging the seizure of assets is already hanging fire in the Bombay High Court.
Responding to this, Aggarwal said that the necessary jurisdiction was Delhi High Court since the charge sheet will be filed by ED in a Delhi Court. He added that the petition pending in Bombay High Court has already become infructuous. After brief arguments, the matter has been transferred to next week on the request of the petitioner.
Last year in March, raids were conducted by ED during which it had seized a diary, hard disk and Rs 10.5 lakh at the office of Deepak Kochhar. The seizure was made from the office of Pacific Capital Services Pvt Ltd,a company belonging to Deepak Kochhar.
As reported by ET earlier this month, the ED is set to soon file its first charge sheet in the case against Kochhars.
The ED had registered the money-laundering case in February last year, days after the Central Bureau of Investigation booked the Kochhars and Videocon Group managing director Venugopal Dhoot over alleged quid pro quo in loan transactions between ICICI Bank and the conglomerate.
The CBI had accused the former bank chief of allegedly receiving “illegal gratification” through her husband from Videocon for sanctioning a term loan of Rs 300 crore. The ED probed how they allegedly laundered the proceeds.
The Kochhars and Dhoot had denied the allegations by both CBI and ED.
The CBI’s investigation into criminal conspiracy, cheating and other charges against the accused is ongoing.
According to the ED, Rs 64 crore out of a loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned by a committee headed by ChandaKochhar to Videocon International Electronics was transferred by the company to NuPower Renewables, owned by her husband, just a day after the bank disbursed the money in September 2009.
NuPower Renewables generated net revenue of Rs 10.65 crore utilising the “tainted funds”, it had said, putting the total proceeds from the alleged transaction at Rs 74.65 crore. The ED had also claimed that the Kochhar family acquired an apartment in Mumbai from the Videocon Group at a price much below the market rate. The total value of assets thus acquired, which it termed as “proceeds of crime”, was Rs 78.15 crore, the ED had said.
During her questioning by the ED last year, Chanda Kochhar had denied wrongdoing. She said loan approval was a collective decision and not that of an individual.
Deepak Kochhar has also previously denied all allegations.
“The flat at CCI Chambers was conveyed from Bilquis Jahan Begum to me and my brother in February 1996,” he had told ET in February last year. “Since then, I have been the owner and occupant till date. The conveyance deed and share certificate reflect the same.”
Dhoot had also denied being part of the deal. “It (the flat) was owned by the Kochhar family from the beginning and we never ever had any ownership or other interest in the said flat,” he had said.