March 28, 2018 / 2:12 PM / 3 months ago

India's ICICI Bank board backs CEO amid nepotism rumours

MUMBAI, March 28 (Reuters) - India’s ICICI Bank moved to put to rest rumours that its Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar allegedly favoured Videocon Group in its lending practices, calling the rumours “malicious and unfounded”.

The bank’s board “has come to the conclusion that there is no question of any quid pro quo/nepotism/conflict of interest as is being alleged in various rumours,” the third-biggest Indian lender by assets said in a stock exchange filing on Wednesday.

The board has “full confidence and reposes full faith” in Kochhar, the statement said.

ICICI Bank has lent to Videocon, a consumer electronics and oil and gas exploration company, as part of a group of lenders and is not the leader of the group, the bank said.

Multiple reports circulated in online blogs and social media in India last week, alluding to alleged conflict of interest in ICICI’s lending to Videocon, alleging that the conglomerate was favoured by the bank’s CEO.

The rumours emerged at a time when the Indian banking sector is on edge, after state-run Punjab National Bank said last month that it had unearthed a roughly $2 billion fraud. The case has stunned financial markets and led to heightened levels of investor concern around any wrongdoing at Indian banks.

It also comes at a time when Indian banks are struggling to tackle problems of record levels of bad loans on their books. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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