In another blow to Chanda Kochhar, law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas has withdrawn its 2016 report, in which it had given a clean chit to the former ICICI Bank MD and CEO over allegations of nepotism and conflict of interest in the sanctioning of loans to the Videocon Group.

The law firm withdrew the report following recent developments, which forced Kochhar to step down. A complaint by a whistleblower prompted the private sector bank to launch a fresh probe on May 30, 2018.

“The bank informed the law firm about the said developments, whereupon the law firm expressed that its earlier report would no longer be valid,” ICICI Bank said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

“The law firm submitted its report in December 2016 stating that it had found no evidence of nepotism and conflict of interest on the part of Kochhar and accordingly the matter was treated as closed,” ICICI Bank said, adding that all concerned parties (including the bank) cooperated with the inquiry at the time.

The bank said its Chairman had engaged “a reputed law firm” to probe the allegations in 2016. A spokesperson for Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas declined to comment. 

Sources said the fresh internal inquiry, being led by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice BN Srikrishna, is likely to be completed by end-November.

Face-saving tactic

“The scope of the probe has widened, so the law firm felt it should withdraw its report,” said a source familiar with the development, and added that it may be a face-saving tactic by the firm in case Kochhar is found to be at fault. The CBI, the I-T Department and SEBI are also probing the allegations against Kochhar.