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Basic Bank loan scams Recovering embezzled money not the main duty of ACC : HC

21 January 2022

Staff Reporter :
The High Court in a full text of a verdict observes that recovering the embezzled money is not the main duty of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). Rather its responsibility is to identify the corruption to bring the guilty to justice.
There can be no reason for the Commission to be complacent as the borrower has rescheduled the loan by repaying a small amount of the borrowed money. And for this reason, there is no chance of acquittal of the offender.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman passed the observation in a verdict that granted bail to Mohammad Ali Chowdhury, former Manager of the bank's Shantinagar Branch, in one of the cases filed for the scams.
The court delivered the verdict on March 14 in 2021 and the full text of the verdict was published recently. In the full text the High Court also observed that the Anti-Corruption Commission is following a wrong way in investigating the cases filed in connection with the loan scams of the state-owned Basic Bank.
It also observed, "We have no hesitation in saying that the Commission is conducting the investigation of the case on the basis of misconception, due to which the investigation of the cases has not been completed in the last five and a half years; In other words, stagnation is prevailing in the investigation activities of the case."
The ACC filed 56 cases in September 2015 over the loan scams of the Basic Bank. Allegation of financial irregularities worth Tk 45 billion has been brought in the cases. The number of accused in those cases, including the former Managing Director of the bank Kazi Fakhrul Islam, is more than a hundred.
Mohammad Ali Chowdhury was made accused in 19 of the 56 cases. The present case was filed on September 23 in 2015 with Paltan Police Station.
In the verdict the High Court said, "The ACC has failed to complete the investigation of the case though almost six years have already passed. According to the affidavit submitted by the ACC, the Commission could not complete the investigation yet as it could not identify the direction of the money or Follow the Money."
Such a statement of the commission seemed misleading to the court, observed the court.
The verdict said, "The main subject of investigation in the case should be whether the accused, as a government employee or a banker, had committed 'criminal breach of trust' and 'criminal misconduct'. Our opinion is that identifying the direction of the embezzled money or to 'follow the money' cannot be a necessary or obligatory condition at all in proving those crimes."
The court said the present case was not filed under the money laundering act and therefore identifying the directions of the money is not mandatory or necessary. It is quite natural that the question arises as to whether there is any intension to save the accused by unnecessarily prolonging the investigation by demanding to go after the 'Follow-the-Money' policy in the investigation of the cases, the court also observed.
The verdict further said that many accused, including senior officials of the bank, have already been granted bail by the High Court Division as the investigation into the present case has not been completed for a long time.
"Considering the situation, it will be appropriate to grant bail to the present accused (Mohammad Ali Chowdhury) in the case. He is directed to submit his passport to the concerned court and is barred from leaving the country without the permission of the court."
Lawyers Zainul Abedin and Sagir Hossain Leon appeared in the hearing on behalf of the bail petitioner, while lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan represented the ACC.
Khurshid Alam Khan said that they have already filed an appeal petition with the Appellate Division against the verdict.

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