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Connected lending by BIFC

It’s a smear campaign, says Major Mannan

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15th-May-2018       
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Special Correspondent :
Chairman of Sunman Group Major (Retd) Abdul Mannan has dismissed the media report of connected lending by Bangladesh Industrial Finance Company (BIFC) Limited saying a vested quarter has launched a smear campaign to undermine credibility of the financial institution that he founded in February 1998.
He is holding 15 percent stake of the joint venture leasing and financing company that was listed with the stock market in 2006.  
."The reports about the connected lending involving me and my family are false, baseless and misleading," Major Mannan, a former chairman of BIFC, told The New Nation yesterday.
He said the news report on BIFC is based on misinformation supplied by the vested quarter. "It is unfortunate that several media houses did not publish my rejoinder protesting the news items. It simply exposes the stories were false and motivated, and it has buried the real stories of the loans.
He said, the real fact is that BIFC has disbursed Tk 1,063 crore loans (lease finance) to several hundreds business firms up to December 2015. The management of the company sanctioned the loans after assessing their creditworthiness and collaterals. But the then management has failed to recover the outstanding loans due to their inefficiency and mismanagement. They, however, prepared window-dressed balance sheets to show the recovery of the loans and profits.  Even they created paper loans to take financial benefit keeping the board in dark.
Businessman-cum-politician Abdul Mannan said, "I founded the non-bank financial institution with the assistance of two foreign firms, based in the USA and Hong Kong, and local entrepreneurs and companies to provide financial services to business firms and people. This financial organization has been doing businesses well for years with reputation. It granted loans to several hundred business firms following the existing law." 
But problem began when a vested quarter acquired five percent share of the company from stock market. After holding the shares, they hold two posts of directors as per the directive of Bangladesh Bank.
"Their appointments did not follow the rules and regulations," he added.   The quarter later established their supremacy in the board and raised various false allegations against other directors who held 95 per cent shares of the company. They are actually trying to grab the company applying various tactics and showing artificial crisis. The sponsor directors are now in fear to lose their ownership of the company due to the malpractice of the evil forces.  Investment of thousands of shareholders is now at risk for their illegal activities also.
"It gives wrong signal to potential foreign investors willing to make investment here in various ventures. The Bangladeshi financial institutions will also lose their reputation in world market," he added.
Different media outlets earlier quoted a Bangladesh Bank (BB) report saying that over 40 business firms linked with Major (Retd) Abdul Mannan, his family members and relatives took Tk 518 crore loans from the BIFC using his influence.
However, loans were disbursed without credit worthiness assessment and collaterals, according to the reports.
In this regard, Abdul Mannan, General Secretary of Bikalpodhara Bangladesh, said, "My attention was drawn to the Audit report of Bangladesh Bank 2015. The surprising thing is that BB demanded explanation from the chairman for an outstanding amount of Tk 394.29 crore of 42 business firms out of several hundred. The BB report stated that these business firms and entities are linked with my family members and me.  
"It is an incomplete report that shielded real facts. My family, me, and even my relatives have no link with the aforesaid companies. I like to say further that I do not know many of the companies, which borrowed from the BIFC. Besides, I realised Tk 120 crore, apart from Tk. 81 crore earlier collected that left the total unrealised loan at Tk 193 crore only.
Referring to media reports of nearly Tk 800 classified loans at the BFIC, he said, "Such loans piled up not in a day ….It took many years."
Both BIFC management and BB are responsible for the situation.
He also said if the central bank had properly supervised the affairs of the company, it might not come to the present situation. "Being a regulator BB is not functioning properly, which is often inviting danger to financial institutions as well as the country banking sector," he observed. He said the worst could happen that BB gave the control of BIFC to 9 directors who are non-stakeholders. They misused over Tk 220 crore in last two years without servicing the BIFC's bank loan and depositor's liabilities. Also BB had no good reason to dismiss the stakeholder director when there was a BB observer in the board.
The non-stakeholder directors' board could have done the servicing of Tk 600 crore. BIFC total loan and deposit liability with proper use of Tk 220 crore (Tk 120 crore recovered by Major Mannan and Tk 100 crore recovered from other borrowers).
After having misused all the recovered money, the non-stakeholder board members want to grab all the shares of sponsors (both the foreign & local investors) with the fake claim of BIFC's insolvency.
Abdul Mannan, however, urged the BB authorities to take appropriate measure to prevent illegal acts in BIFC by the vested group, which is now trying to take hold of the leasing company.
He also urged the people not to respond irrationally to false media reports.  When asked, BB spokesperson Debashish Chakraborty said the central bank is closely watching the activities of the financial institution.  He, however, declined to make further comment in this regard. 

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