The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has moved to delay bonus payments for three of the top private bankers in the country, namely Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank, Shikha Sharma of Axis Bank and Aditya Puri of HDFC Bank.
In the case of embattled ICICI Bank MD-CEO Chanda Kochhar, the bank's board had already approved a bonus amounting to Rs 2.2 crore ($340,000), while as per sources, Axis Bank MD-CEO Shikha Sharma was set to receive Rs 1.35 crore and HDFC Bank's MD Aditya Puri was to receive Rs. 2.9 crore.
The decision of the central bank comes at a tumultuous time for the Indian banking sector. Even as the RBI's measures and subsequent insolvency proceedings appear to be making headway in tackling the biggest NPAs on Indian lenders' balance sheets, the sector has over the last few months come under the scanner because of a number of scandals coming to light, including the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi PNB Bank scam, the Vikram Kothari Rotomac case and the ongoing preliminary probe into the controversial ICICI Bank-Videocon Group loan issue concerning India's second largest private lender's CEO Chanda Kochhar.
In Chanda Kochhar's case, as per sources, ICICI Bank's board is divided on the CEO's future. The board is set to meet this week and the case of the Rs. 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group sanctioned in 2012 that has come under the scanner may be discussed. The board's chairman MK Sharma has earlier mounted a strong defence of Chanda Kochhar.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Axis Bank had intimated in a regulatory filing that its CEO Shikha Sharma had requested for her term at the head of the bank be cut short and be concluded at the end of this year. Just last year, Sharma had been handed a fourth consecutive term which was to begin this year and end in 2021.