ICICI Bank Ex-Chief: No Crime Here, Only Bad Conduct?

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The press statement issued by ICICI Bank based on the enquiry report headed by Justice (Retd.) Srikrishna to investigate the allegations against Chanda Kochhar appears deliberately confusing and convoluted. While it states that Chanda Kochhar was in violation of the bank’s Code of Conduct, on the more serious charge of whether her conduct violated Indian laws, it is surprisingly vague. The media highlighted  the anomaly that the ICICI Bank board first absolved Kochhar, and the same board now found her guilty of violating its internal code of conduct. Media outlets portrayed the punishment sought by ICICI Bank against its former CEO (demanding a ‘claw back’ of all the bonuses and stock options given to her during her tenure as CEO) as stringent.

Although, in monetary terms, the penalty may be substantial, it is insignificant when compared with jail time for a possible criminal offence. From the press statement of ICICI Bank, it would appear that the Srikrishna report falls far short of the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI); the latter charged her with the “suspected offence of criminal conspiracy, cheating, public servant taking illegal gratification/undue advantage, criminal misconduct of public servant and abuse of official position by public servant.”

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