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The last to know: on ICICI imbroglio

The board of ICICI Bank has finally acted on the allegations(आरोपों) of misconduct against its CEO and managing director, Chanda Kochhar. It had earlier maintained that she was on annual personal leave; now, she will stay away from the office till the completion of an inquiry into the charges levelled against her by a whistle-blower. Rather(बल्कि/अधिक उचित रूप से) than allow the controversy to fester, the board of ICICI Bank, an institution that often sought to hold a mirror up to the inefficiencies(निष्फलता/प्रभावहीनता) of public sector banks, should have acted earlier. Till the inquiry is complete the bank will be steered(चलाया/मार्गदर्शन करना) by a new chief operating officer, Sandeep Bakhshi. The official version is that he will report to Ms. Kochhar, who herself took the decision to go on leave till the end of the inquiry — but this is at best a face-saving cover for a board that was reluctant(अनिच्छुक/असन्तुष्ट) to act since the controversy broke. Meanwhile, the tenure of M.K. Sharma, the chairman of the bank’s board, is set to end this month and there is still no clarity on his successor. This extended uncertainty(अनिश्चितता/विकल्प) in a crisis(संकट) situation is unwarranted. ICICI Bank’s troubles are rooted in a 2016 complaint by an investor alleging a quid pro quo deal between Ms. Kochhar’s immediate family members and the Videocon group, which got a ₹3,250-crore loan from it. When this ‘conflict(संघर्ष) of interest’ complaint resurfaced(पुनर्निर्माण करना/बदल देना) in the public domain this year, Mr. Sharma said he had personally inquired(पूछताछ) into it two years earlier and found nothing amiss.

With the Central Bureau of Investigation and later the stock market regulator SEBI swooping(झुकाव) in, the issue of whether the bank had failed to make adequate(पर्याप्त) disclosures(भंडाफोड़/परदाफ़ाश) about its dealings with the borrower (who is now a defaulter) and a firm related to Ms. Kochhar’s husband was spotlighted(चर्चित). The bank is yet to respond to SEBI, but changed tack after the latter decided to launch a probe into allegations of a quid pro quo and alleged misconduct(क़सूर/अवगुण)by Ms. Kochhar. Three weeks on, the names of the members of and terms of reference for the probe panel to be led by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna are still awaited. It is debatable whether such a high-profile panel is required to ascertain if Ms. Kochhar, whose term ends next March, had made adequate disclosures while deciding on the loans. The board itself could have dealt with this through an internal investigation rather than giving the impression that it wanted to paper over the issue, sending a poor signal to all stakeholders. No doubt Ms. Kochhar, a star on the corporate firmament(आसमान) , enjoys a formidable(घोर/भयंकर) reputation as a banker. While one should not prejudge the inquiry findings, there is no doubt that the strength(शक्ति) of corporate governance practices in the bank has come under question because of the way the issue has played out.

Important Vocabulary

Synonyms: carelessness, disorganization, inability, incapability, wastefulness

2.Steered(चलाया/मार्गदर्शन करना)
Synonyms:drive, escort, govern, herd, shepherd
Antonyms: abandon, obey

Synonyms: battle, clash, combat, competition, rivalry, strife
Antonyms: peace, truce, agreement, calm, harmony

Synonyms: afraid, averse, cautious, circumspect, hesitant
Antonyms: bold, careless, certain, confident, definite

Synonyms: dereliction, immorality, impropriety, malfeasance, malpractice
Antonyms: behavior, obedience, manners

Synonyms: fame, light, limelight, notoriety, public eye
Antonyms: obscurity

Synonyms: dive, plummet, pounce, fall, plunge
Antonyms: ascend, rise

Synonyms:dangerous, daunting, dire, dreadful, fierce
Antonyms: calm, poor, trivial, unimportant, unthreatening



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