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Basic Bank loan scams

HC frustrated with ACC's slow investigation

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Staff Reporter :
The High Court (HC) on Wednesday expressed deep anger and frustration at the Investigation Officers over the slow pace of progress in investigation of 56 cases filed in connection with Basic Bank loan scam. The HC wondered why they failed to complete the investigation in two and half years time.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim expressed this anger while hearing four petitions filed by few accused including Fazlur Sobhan, the then Managing Director of Basic Bank, seeking bail in the cases.
Earlier in the morning, all the 8 Investigation Officers of the 56 cases appeared before the HC bench with all the documents to place their explanation over the delay in completing the investigations as per the HC direction passed on May 23.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan, Advocate Syed Mamun Mahbub and Advocate Fazlul Haque appeared in the court on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud stood for the bail petitioners.
At the starting, the court told the ACC lawyers, "You failed to submit just a single charge-sheet in 56 cases in last two and half years. How the board gave consent for the loan after the negative findings of the credit checking committee? Why none of the board members was accused in the cases?"
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, "We are trying. We hold meeting with every Investigation Officer after the court order. They did not have any fault. ACC is working. The Chairman of the bank was also interrogated. Every issue is being investigated."
Then the court said, "What happened with so much of our observation? You applied pick and choose policy arresting the accused."
The Junior Judge of the bench said, "If the case was filed against a farmer for only Tk 5 thousand scamming, he is being tied to his waist. So, why this is not happening with the Basic Bank accused?"
Then the Senior Judge of the bench Justice M Enayetur Rahim said, "What else we say. We cannot be an Investigation Officer of a Prosecutor."
"Some accused are getting bail because of your subversion. You are delaying to submit charge-sheets. The accused are getting bail. We are bound to grant them bail," said the Senior Judge.
Then the court asked Iqbal Hossain, ACC Director and also an Investigation Officer, about the delay of submitting charge-sheets in the cases. Iqbal Hossain replied they were in the last stage of the investigation.
Then the Senior Judge said, "We are frustrated with your performances. We have to grant bail to the petitioners. All the accused are getting bail one by one."
The judge then asked the ACC Director, "Do you think that money was embezzled?" Iqbal Hossain said, "Yes, it was." Then the judge said, "If it was, then why are you not arresting the debtors?
Iqbal Hossain said the loan debtors were changing their addresses regularly. So they did not find them. Then Justice M Enayetur Rahim said, "You are saying that the debtors were changing the addresses, but we see them in the talk-shows."
At this stage Justice M Enayetur Rahim said, "The state has lost so much money, now if the organization (ACC) does not work, we have nothing to do. If such a statutory organization does not work, then there is no profit from it."
"How much we talked about the issue! Now, we cover our eyes with shame. We think, we must cover the faces with black cloth, we talked so much but no result. There is no benefit with the order. It seems that pearls have been spread in the owl forest."
On May 23, the High Court summoned all the Investigation Officers of 56 cases filed in connection with Basic Bank loan scam, seeking their explanation over the delay in completing the investigation.
On that day the court also expressed dissatisfaction over the investigations of the cases as the investigations were not finished in due time of 180 days.
"The Anti-Corruption commission filed 56 cases in connection with the Basic Bank loan scam," Anti-Corruption commission's lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told the journalists.
"During the proceedings, the court found that the investigations of the cases were not finished in due time. So the court summons all the investigation officers," the ACC lawyers said.
According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, about Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of the state-run bank between 2010 and 2013 when Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu chaired its board.
On July 14, 2014, the central bank sent a report on the scam to the ACC, detailing how people embezzled money from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts.
The BB found that Bacchu illegally influenced all the activities of the bank, leaving the once-sound institution in a grave state. In 2015, the ACC had filed the 56 cases over the scam at Motijheel, Paltan and Gulshan Police Stations in the city.
The ACC accused 120 persons in those cases, however, Bacchu, the then Chairman of the bank, was not made accused in any of the cases. Among the 120 persons, 27 are officers of the Basic Bank, 11 are surveyors and 82 are debtors.
According to the Bangladesh Bank, till June 30, 2017, the rate of the default loan of the Basic Bank is 53 percent (7 thousand 390 crore), which is highest rate of the default loan of any bank.
As per BB report, the total amount of loan distributed by the Basic Bank was Tk 2 thousand 700 crore by December in 2008. The figure stood at Tk 9 thousand 373 crore by March in 2013, which means the bank distributed Tk 6 thousand 673 crore in four years and three months. About Tk 4 thousand 500 crore was distributed violating the law among the loans distributed by this time.

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