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Should the entire board of the ICICI Bank and its subsidiaries resign too?

I would like to commence this blog with the following lines extracted from my other Blog – “Should Chanda Kochhar be reappointed on the board of the ICICI Securities?” – 1) Professionalism – On the very first place, as a thorough professional, Mrs. Kochhar, “on her own”, should have relinquished from all her positions and stayed away, until and unless she came out untainted of all the accusations against her in the said case.

In the same blog, I have also raised some serious concerns on the reappointment of Mrs. Chanda Kochhar on the board of the ICICI Securities. However, sidelining all the issues raised against her reappointment, the board took a decision to reappoint her on the board of the ICICI Securities, on dated 30th August 2018. Quite surprisingly, this decision was taken in spite of a serious investigation going on against her.

Who knows, if, Mrs. Kochhar would have gone through my above-mentioned blog then she might have taken the decision to resign much earlier and also, she wouldn’t have offered herself to be reappointed on the board of the ICICI Securities. Anyway, it is a gone past and however hard one may try nothing actually could be changed as of now because fortunately, life doesn’t come with a back-dating option.

Although, Mrs. Kochhar didn’t resign from her post earlier, on the contrary, she was reappointed on the board of the ICICI Securities. However, the direction of the wind tends to changes with time and so did happen in this case as well. Herewith, let me make it very clear that there is a very slight chance that the common citizen of India would ever know if it was a forceful or a natural change in the flow of the wind. However, what matters is that the wind, at last, changed its direction.

So, finally, Mrs. Chanda Kochhar has to resign from the post of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of the ICICI Bank and its subsidiary companies. Let me apprise herewith that she is facing allegations of “conflict of interest” and “quid pro quo”, taking undue advantage of her position, especially in the Videocon loan case involving her Husband Mr. Deepak Kochhar.

Well, ‘technically’ and ‘officially’ it’s being said that she voluntarily resigned from her post. However, considering the circumstances, chances of a forceful resignation “covered under the robe of a voluntary decision” could not be ruled out altogether. Still, if for a second, we force ourselves to believe that it was a voluntary resignation then also a very valid question erupts instantly. If at all, Mrs. Kochhar has to resign voluntarily then why would she offer herself to be reappointed on the board of the ICICI Securities, just a month ago? Simply a change of mind in a month’s time, is it? Nah, don’t seem so, considering a person of that caliber, right?

It might have happened that Mrs. Kochhar realized, sensed or got some hint that there are very high chances of her getting charged under the said case. Hence, the decision to resign ‘voluntarily’ was required to be taken ‘instantly’ or else the loyal board has to expel her if found guilty later on. Nevertheless, she took the decision what she thought was right for her, given the circumstances. Hence, we should respect her decision, in the similar way as it is done by the same faithful board which reappointed her a month ago, by accepting her resignation instantly.

In the official statement, the ICICI Bank said that the probe against Mrs. Kochhar shall continue and the bank might hold her retirement benefits if found guilty. However, the bank didn’t state the actual reason for Mrs. Kochhar’s voluntary resignation with immediate effect, all of a sudden. As a matter of fact, one more Independent Director Mr. M. D. Mallya has also resigned from the board on account of the health issues, as stated.

Now, if by any chance, Mrs. Kochhar is held to be guilty in the said case then the big question is do the existing Board members of the ICICI Bank and its subsidiaries have any moral ground to be on the board anymore? Aren’t the board members themselves guilty of various moral misconducts on their part? Considering this, do they even think that they have any right to be on the board anymore?

Now, if by any chance, Mrs. Kochhar is found to be having even a slight involvement in the said case then following are some of the critical issues that shall raise finger towards the present Board members, as well –

  1. Not taking timely and corrective action against the whistleblower’s complaint.
  2. Keeping the shareholders in dark for a long period of time.
  3. Giving clean chit to Mrs. Kochhar initially, without undertaking a thorough investigation, in the matter concerned.
  4. Taking a stand in support of Mrs. Kochhar, as well as, stating that there is no involvement of her in the said case, even when enquired by the Srikrishna Committee, which is probing in the matter concerned.
  5. Reappointing Mrs. Kochhar on the board of the ICICI Securities, in spite of the investigation going on against her.

Do remember that not only the culprit but all those who knowingly try to hide or cover up any misdoings are also responsible and guilty of the misconduct. I hope the board members get a good sense, as well as, the shareholders take some harsh decisions in the best interest of the organization and the nation, as well.

I wish that may the Almighty give good sense to all of us. Keep your ethics and credibility intact.

Stay in touch.

God Bless!

Peyush Jain