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SB wants govt intervention to recover embezzled money

Move on loan scam

Rezaul Karim | February 09, 2018 00:00:00

Sonali Bank called for government intervention to recover huge funds embezzled by Hall-Mark and five other entities as a latest reminder came from above.

Recently, the Financial Institutions Division (FID) asked the state-run bank to report the recovery status of the forged loans, as there has been no progress since 2012, officials said.

And the bank has sent a report to the division and sought necessary direction to retrieve the money from the entities, they added.

Sonali Bank's Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch lent Hall-Mark Group and five other companies Tk 39.88 billion between 2010 and May 2012 allegedly through false documents.

The little-known big borrowers embezzled the whole amount that belongs to depositors, in collusion with some dishonest bank officials, according to sources concerned.

Of the total amount, Hall-Mark Group alone took away over Tk 29.64 billion, T and Brothers over Tk 7.37 billion, Paragon Group over Tk 1.61 billion, Nakshi Knit over Tk 799 million, DN Sports over Tk 382 million and Khanjahan Ali Sweaters over Tk 67 million. Of the six borrowers, Hall-Mark has been found to be "the biggest swindler", said one official.

Only Tk 4.56 billion and Tk 1.12 billion have been recovered from Hall-Mark and the five others respectively to date.

Currently, some Tk 25.08 billion has been outstanding from the Hall-Mark Group. Of the bad debt, Tk 12.29 billion was written off out of Tk 17.08 billion worth of funded loan last year, according to the bank documents.

On the other hand, some Tk 9.39 billion has also been outstanding with the five agencies, according to the bank papers.

According to the board of directors' decision, the bank authority filed 24 suits with the Money Loan Court, five money suits and four criminal cases against Hall-Mark and the five others. Of 24 cases, verdict on 19 has been given in favour of the bank.

Presently, operations of Hall-Mark Group and the other suspects have been closed down.

Some 6928 acres of mortgaged land is valued Tk 4.72 billion. Besides, some 9154 acres of proposed lands, worth Tk 9.53 billion, are now under the bank custody.

But, the state-owned Sonali Bank has found no bidder to sell off the proposed assets though auction move was taken for raising funds after the defaulters had failed to repay the loans obtained through forgeries.

The auction move came following decrees issued by the Artho Rin Adalat or loan court, set up in the wake of a rising incidence of loan default in the country.

The bank has applied to the court to attach the assets of six firms sued in the cases. It is sincerely trying to communicate with the lawyers concerned to settle the cases, sources said.

Contacted over phone, Md. Obayed Ullah Al Masud, CEO and Managing Director of the bank, declined to talk about the Hall-Mark issue due to his current stay in the United Kingdom (UK) on a visit.

Hardly has there been any visible progress in recovering Tk 40 billion embezzled by the Hall-Mark Group and five other entities despite the bank's efforts since 2012. Over the years, Sonali Bank has tried to realise the funds, a General Manager of the bank said, preferring anonymity.

"Some of the money was recovered and adjusted in 2012. We have applied for attaching the assets under the cases. We can't cash for running cases," he told the FE.

"Besides, we will be able to make a move for selling the assets after getting verdict from the Artho Rin Adalat (financial loan court)."

A high official in the FID said the state-run bank had already informed the division that it did not find any bidders for the scam-hit six firms.

There is no possibility repayment of the funds embezzled by Hall-Mark and five other firms as the money has been "robbed" and not taken on loan, said former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled.

He suggested that a responsible and strong finance minister is needed for the country at this moment to stop loan scams.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has already filed 38 cases against executives/officers and involved directors of the six entities. Of the cases, one has been settled through life-term sentence and 37 cases are now under trial, according to Sonali Bank sources.

The court has already issued certification for attaching and selling off the mortgaged assets under section 33(5) of the relevant law. Currently, the bank has petitioned the court for getting possession of the mortgaged assets under the section of 33(7). Senior secretary at the FID Md. Eunusur Rahman could not be contacted despite several attempts to take his say about the Hall-Mark issue.

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