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Tk 300 crore embezzled

Administrator for Aziz Co-op soon

Depositors must get their money back: PMO

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has recommended for appointing an administrator to the Aziz Co-operative Commerce and Finance Credit Society Limited to ensure that depositors get their money back.
It came up with the recommendation in a recent letter to the Secretaries of Rural Development and Co-operatives Division and Financial Institutions Division after investigations found massive fraud committed by the Aziz Co-operative's top brass.  
Aziz Co-operative Society got registered (Reg-no-230) with the Department of Co-operative on November 13, 1984 and thereby started its operation. As of February 20 last year, it collected deposits worth Tk 112,41,46,278 from 5,833 clients through its 71 branches across the country, according to an investigation.
It says that the Co-operative's Chairman M Tajul Islam in connivance with 10-15 other managers of the company mobilised deposits from the clients promising unusually big returns. But when the clients went to get back their returns, the Cooperative's officials did not paid them off pleading various excuses.
The top officials of Aziz Co-operative are currently facing charges that include money laundering and transferring company funds to personal accounts.
"The Co-operatives' management committee officials and staff allegedly embezzled and possessed funds through fraud and breach of rust with the depositors and allegedly siphoned it off," read the letter of PMO by its Director Md Mominur Rahman, adding, "Such breach of trust and misappropriation of fund have forced the depositors to lodge complaints with the Department of Co-operative and law-enforcement agencies to get back their funds." "In this circumstance, an administrator should be appointed to the Cooperative on behalf of the government as soon as possible for safety of depositors money and to ensure that depositors get their money back.  Besides, cases should be filed against the Aziz Co-operative's officials under the Money Laundering Act with quick approval of charge sheets to ensure punishment of the wrongdoers."      
"An administrator will be appointed for the Co-operative as soon as possible in line with the PMO directives," an anonymous Rural Development and Co-operatives Division official told The New Nation yesterday.
He said the administrator would take necessary steps to pay off the cheated clients.
The anomalies first came to light after a Bangladesh Bank (BB) probe found the Co-operative engaged in illegal banking.
According to the Bank Company Act and Co-operative Societies Act, a company cannot accept deposits from the public without a licence from Bangladesh Bank.
"The Co-operative was running illegal banking operations under the guise of Co-operatives. But the central bank can not take any direct action against the institution, as it is not licensed by it," BB spokesperson Md Serajul Islam told The New Nation.
Terming the Co-operative as a 'fly by night outfit,' he said that such organisation appear on the scene promising unusually big returns on money invested and after cheating people either go bankrupt or just close down.
 "Aziz Co-operative was licensed under the Co-operatives Department. So, powers are vested with the Department to control of such Co-operative. Other government agencies can also take against it," said Md Serajul Islam.
He also cited that the central bank issued public notices on several occasions in order to keep the public away from such institutions.
Earlier, the Department of Co-operatives filed a case against the top brass of the Co-operative with Ramna Police Station.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Dhaka Divisional Office, is now investigating the case.
A team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) recently arrested Aziz Co-operative's Chairman Tajul Islam from city's Motijheel area on charge of embezzling Tk 300 crore.
In a primary investigation, law enforcers found evidence that Tajul Islam siphoned off the customers' money, around Tk 100 crore to Canada, where his two sons have been living since 2011.

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