US SEC queries India’s ICICI on governance, accounting

By BLOOMBERG

MUMBAI • The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sought details from India’s ICICI Bank Ltd on its accounting and corporate governance practices, people familiar with the matter said.

The SEC’s queries centre on ICICI’s dealings with certain borrowers under CEO Chanda Kochhar and whether there had been misrepresentations in the bank’s accounting, the people said, asking not to be named. The regulator is taking an interest because ICICI has American Depositary Receipts traded in the US, the people added.

ICICI’s board has appointed a retired judge from India’s top court to examine allegations against Kochhar, people familiar with the matter said last month. Those allegations include claims of a “quid pro quo” in her dealings with certain of the bank’s borrowers, according to an ICICI exchange filing in May.

Kochhar is on leave pending the result of the internal probe, which comes as federal authorities separately conduct a so-called preliminary inquiry into alleged links between a local conglomerate and Kochhar’s husband.

The SEC queries to senior ICICI officials included a request for information on the bank’s accounting practices during five years up to 2016, the people said.

An ICICI Bank representative didn’t immediately respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment.

The SEC didn’t reply to an email outside Washington office hours. Mint newspaper reported earlier yesterday on the SEC’s move.

ICICI shares were up 3.2% in afternoon trading in Mumbai yesterday, paring this year’s loss to 10%.