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India court remands former ICICI Bank CEO's husband in police custody

FILE PHOTO: Former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar arrives at the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a government agency that fights financial crime, in Mumbai, India, March 2, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court on Tuesday allowed the country’s financial crime fighting agency to take 10-day custody of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband, two lawyers familiar with the matter said.

Deepak Kochhar’s remand in custody comes a day after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate as part of an ongoing probe into allegations of money laundering which ended the career of one of India’s most celebrated bankers.

Indian authorities have been investigating Kochhar, head of the company NuPower Renewables, and his wife on suspicion of cheating, criminal conspiracy and money laundering.

Chanda Kochhar quit as ICICI CEO around two years ago due to the investigation. The Kochhars have denied all charges against them and did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Tuesday.

The Enforcement Directorate also did not respond. In its request seeking Deepak’s custody, the agency said he had been “totally noncooperative, evasive and misleading during the investigation”, according to a court filing seen by Reuters.

The two lawyers involved in the case, who declined to be named, said the court in Mumbai allowed custody until Sept. 19 following a request from the Directorate.

Indian enforcement authorities have alleged that ICICI Bank, under Chanda Kochhar, sanctioned “high value” loans to Videocon Industries, violating the bank’s lending policies. In exchange, the authorities allege, Videocon’s owner invested in NuPower Renewables.

The former banker has in the past faced interrogation by enforcement authorities. Last year, the Enforcement Directorate also conducted searches on Chanda Kochhar’s properties and those linked to Videocon.

Videocon’s managing director also denies any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Nupur Anand and Abhirup Roy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Emelia Sithole-Matarise