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News analysis

Motive behind bank heist!

By Special Correspondent
10th-Mar-2014       
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Another burglary at Sonali Bank's Adamdighi branch in Bogra district happened on Saturday just over one month of a similar burglary cutting a similar tunnel to Sonali Bank's Kishoregonj town branch raising serious question about why it is happening time and again and why the management is consistently failing to protect the vaults.
Burglars took away Tk 32 lakhs from the Adamdighi branch cutting a tunnel from a furniture shop nearby in Friday night. The use of similar technique has also raised the question whether an organized group is at work to prove the Sonali Bank management's failure to raise question about running the bank in the public sector.
Experts made skeptical comments on what may be the possible far reaching motives behind these outwardly plain burglary cases. There is something fishy - either wrong persons are authorized to run the bank or wrong versions are given every time after such theft occurred about the arrest of the culprits. People doubts the statements.  The question is: If there is any influential group working from behind and why Sonali Bank has become a consistent target.  
They have also raised questions about the competence of Bangladesh Bank authorities and the management of Sonali Bank in particular in running the country's biggest bank.
Why both the regulator and the bank itself are consistently failing is the big question. One may tend to suspect, either they may be working for the third party's interest or they must leave the position accepting their capacity shortfall to run big banks.
Political nominees are not good choices to run public sector banks and financial institutions because they remain loyal to party interest or instructions from the party. The present governor of Bangladesh Bank has proved it beyond all doubts.
He had information of the Hallmark scam at least one year before its disclosure to the media and yet he did not act apparently to show his loyalty to party bigwigs who had a hand behind it.    
What is happening now has never happened before in the bank. It started with the disclosure of the swindling of the bank's Tk 36,00 crore by the Hallmark Group allegedly under the cover of a senior adviser to the Prime Minister..
The Anti-Corruption Commission never bothered to question him for the big fictitious loans he reportedly facilitated with the help of some Sonali Bank board of directors who were politically appointed. The ACC also neither  took any board member for questioning which may have facilitated the safe corridor to swindle public sector banks time and again.
Some other big swindling cases were also unearthed on that occasion such as the loan scams of Bismillah Group involving not only state owned banks but also some private sector banks. The big question is why the entire banking sector is target of swindlers. It could never happen if the perpetrators are boasted by a sense of impunity.   
Commenting on the renewed burglary at Adamdighi branch of the Sonali Bank former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Salehuddin Ahmed said "It's a flagrant example of management failure. Otherwise, why such incidents occur time and again.
He told The New Nation last night that the authorities of Sonali Bank have not only miserably failed to ensure safety compliance measures within the bank but also showed reluctance in infusing dynamism in its board.  
Not only Sonali Bank but other state-owned banks are also run by inefficient management with highly incapable persons, he said adding that the government political appointment on bank's board of directors is further destabilizing the situation.
He said had the Bangladesh Bank and the government on top of it were able to punish bank officials and board members responsible for previous swindling, the recurrence could have been stopped.
Referring to the Hallmark scam, he said, the officials who helped the unknown business group are yet to be punished.
He held the regulatory bodies responsible for the easy swindling of the bank money. The whole governance system of the public banking sector has collapsed and it requires to renewed build up with dynamic management. Private banks may face similar fate, he feared adding sooner we can rebuild the sysyem the better.

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