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Court orders arrest as PK Halder set for return home

FE REPORT | October 22, 2020 00:00:00

The High Court on Wednesday ordered the law enforcing agencies to arrest Proshanta Kumar Halder (known as PK Halder), who allegedly swindled billions out of a number of banks and financial institutions and fled the country.

The law enforcers have also been directed to send him to the competent court of law, showing execution of the arrest warrant.

Inspector general of police (IGP), immigration authorities and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have been asked to comply with the order by ensuring his arrest.

The High Court bench of Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar passed the order after hearing a petition filed by the International Leasing and Financial Services Limited (ILFSL), a non-bank financial institution, in this connection.

The HC also said: "Since his safe arrival and keeping him in jail would assist the court in dealing with this case, this court is of the view that the police and immigration authority should ensure that Mr PK Halder shall not be allowed to leave the airport without first surrendering himself before the police and immigration authority."

Barrister Mahfuzur Rahman Milon, who appeared in the court on behalf of ILFSL, said Halder recently communicated with the company, saying that he wanted to return to the country under the court custody to pay the money that he had embezzled.

"Then the ILFSL board took a decision to recover the money, embezzled by Halder, by bringing him back to the country. As per the decision, ILFSL decided to file an application with the High Court, seeking its directive to allow him to return to the country under the court custody on condition that he would pay the money that he had embezzled," added the lawyer.

After primary hearing on the petition, the court on September 7 last admitted it and issued an order asking the ILFSL to inform the court about his arrival time, date and flight number, etc. and then the court would pass further order on the issue.

Communicating with PK Halder, the ILFSL on October 20 informed the court that he would return to the country on October 25 and they submitted the copy of the tickets of the Emirates Airlines to the High Court. After receiving the tickets, the High Court fixed October 21 (Wednesday) for detailed hearing on the matter.

The court on Wednesday heard from attorney general AM Amin Uddin as the state representative, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan and ILFSL lawyer Mahfuzur Rahman Milon over the issue and then passed the order.

Mr Amin Uddin told the court that PK Halder is a fugitive in the eye of law. So he cannot get any special favour on his return, added the lawyer.

Halder while officiating as the managing director of Reliance Finance Ltd, a non-bank financial institution, had made his relatives directors of three other leasing companies to swindle money.

Together, they had allegedly misappropriated around Tk 35 billion from four NBFIs and left the country last year, the Anti-Corruption Commission found in its enquiry.

The NBFIs are ILFSL, Peoples' Leasing and Financial Services Ltd, Reliance Finance Ltd and FAS Finance and Investment Ltd.

Citing investigators, and the central bank, media reports also said the volume of money swindled by PK Halder could be not less than Tk 102 billion (10,200 crore).

According to the investigation officers, Halder created some businesses that existed only on paper. He then took loans using those businesses and got away.

Later, the anti-graft body had frozen as many as 83 accounts where the said money had been transferred.

On January 19 last, the HC had imposed ban on all the present shareholder-directors and the top executives of ILFSL, including Halder, barring them from leaving the country.

But before imposing the ban, Halder and his family members had left the country.

Following a petition, filed by some depositors of ILFSL, the HC had also directed the authorities concerned not to transfer any of their movable and immovable properties, including stock, cash money, vehicles, etc. to any person or entity until disposal of the case filed with the court in this regard.

The home secretary was directed to seize passports of all the present shareholder-directors and the top executives of the company as well as collect their detailed information.

The persons concerned are - MA Hashem (chairman), M Nurul Alam (director and managing director of Shaw Wallace Bangladesh Ltd), Md Zahirul Alam, FCA (independent director), Nasim Anwar, FCA (independent director), Bashudeb Banerjee (independent director), Papia Banarjee (independent director), Momtaz Begum (independent director), Md Nowsherul Islam (independent director), Md Anwarul Kabir (independent director), and Engineer Md Nuruzzaman (independent director).

The list also included the names of Muhammad Abul Hashem (independent director), Rashedul Haque (managing director of the company), and PK Halder and his relatives, namely, mother Lilaboti Halder, brother Pritish Kumar Halder, wife Susmita Saha, cousins Amitav Adhikari and Avijit Adhikari, ex-managing director of Bank Asia Limited Erfanuddin Ahmed, and one Uzzal Kumar Nondi.

According to media reports, PK Halder is learnt to have been residing in Toronto. Media reports further revealed that Mr. Halder is a director of a Canadian corporation P&L Hal Holding Inc. along with his brother Pritish Kumar Halder and wife Susmita Saha since July 3, 2014.

Although the government issued a travel ban on PK Halder on October 3, he managed to flee the country.

In July this year, the authorities appointed a liquidator to liquidate Peoples' Leasing due to alarming deterioration of its financial health over the several years.

Halder is also reportedly involved with Simtex Industries, Rahman Chemicals and Northern Jute Manufacturing Company.

Loans amounting to Tk 170 crore had been taken from ILFSL in the names of Simtex, Rahman Chemicals and Northern Jute, media reports say.

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