Income tax department raids offices of firms linked to Matix Group chairman Nishant Kanodia
Nishant Kanodia is Essar Group patriarch Ravi Ruia’s son-in-law and he owns the Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings that invested Rs325 crore in NuPower between 2010 and 2012.
The income tax department searched offices of companies connected to Matix Group chairman Nishant Kanodia at several locations on Thursday and Friday, in connection with a probe into an investment made by a Kanodia firm in NuPower Renewables, promoted by Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar.
The raids, conducted on premises in several locations in Kolkata, other parts of West Bengal, and Mumbai, were still underway on Friday night. Matix Group did not respond to emails and phone calls from HT.
Kanodia is Essar Group patriarch Ravi Ruia’s son-in-law and he owns the Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings that invested Rs325 crore in NuPower between 2010 and 2012.
“This is part of our ongoing probe into NuPower. We are probing why Firstland Holdings made the investment and exited soon after and whether this has connections with any Essar Group company,” said a tax officer who did not wish to be identified.
Firstland did not respond to requests for comment sent by email.
Essar has denied that it has anything to do with Firstland’s investments in NuPower and also said that it has not invested in NuPower.
In 2013, Firstland sold its stake in NuPower to DH Renewables, another Mauritius-based company.
“The question is why did Firstland invest ₹325 crore in NuPower, which got it 9% stake in the company, only to offload that stake to DH Renewables within a year,” said another official from one of the agencies probing NuPower.
The official cited above, who too asked not to be identified, claimed that Firstland exited NuPower without any gains on its investment.
Deepak Kochhar has all along maintained that DH Renewables is an investment vehicle of Accion Diversified Fund; the tax department is probing to see if it is a front for some other Indian entity such as Essar Group.
HT was the first to report on May 7 that Essar Group is on the radar of probe agencies looking into NuPower.
The tax department has sent several tax notices to Deepak Kochhar seeking his financial details as well as those of Firstland Holdings and DH Renewables.
Deepak Kochhar and his companies are being investigated after a whistleblower complained that Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot had transferred his personal stake in NuPower to Deepak Kochhar in a quid-pro-quo for a loan extended by ICICI Bank to Videocon. Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot have both been named in a preliminary enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Agencies are also investigating Deepak Kochhar’s brother Rajiv Kochhar, who runs a Singapore-based debt restructuring advisory, that is believed to have worked with some large companies that were engaged in debt restructuring discussions with ICICI Bank.