Indian agency searches properties of former ICICI Bank CEO Kochhar

MUMBAI, March 1 (Reuters) - India’s financial crime fighting agency said on Friday it was conducting searches on properties of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and a top executive of Videocon group, amid probes into suspected conflict of interest and misconduct.

Searches, under prevention of money laundering laws, were being conducted in Mumbai and Aurangabad, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Twitter.

In January, India’s federal police, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case of criminal conspiracy and fraud against Kochhar, her husband, and Videocon Managing Director Venugopal Dhoot alleging Kochhar had favoured Videocon, a consumer electronics and oil and gas exploration company, by violating the bank’s lending policies.

CBI alleged that Dhoot, in return, invested a large sum in NuPower Renewables, a business headed by Kochhar’s husband.

Last month, the federal investigating agency raided four locations owned by Videocon Industries and NuPower Renewables, according to a source at CBI.

The Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against Kochhar, her husband and Dhoot last month based on the case by CBI, according to media reports.

Dhoot, Kochhar, and her husband were not reachable for comment on the Enforcement Directorate’s searches on Friday.

ICICI said in January an investigation had found Kochhar had violated internal bank policies and it sought to revoke her unpaid bonuses or increments, unexercised stock options and medical benefits.

Kochhar has not commented on the allegations by CBI but had said she was “utterly disappointed, hurt and shocked” by ICICI’s decision. Her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon’s Dhoot have denied any wrongdoing.

ICICI Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Additional reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)