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Commentary

In corruption-driven economy one can't punish big loan defaulters

29 November 2022
In corruption-driven economy one can't punish big loan defaulters


Editorial Desk :
The big loan defaulters who have brought Bangladesh's banking sector to its present precarious state are a big problem for its economy, Yet they have consistently received government's patronage. In most cases, the loan defaulters are the core people of the Awami League and the government. Though they have devastated the economy for more than a decade neither Bangladesh Bank nor the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) ever tried to bring them to book.
These offenders have always remained beyond the periphery of law, and the High Court on Sunday appreciably asked the ACC - its lawyer Khurshid Alam in particular - why the anti-corruption watchdog dilly-dallied to bring the defaulters to face justice. The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khijir Hayat Lizu asked this question when they were hearing a writ petition filed by ACC seeking cancellation of bail granted to a former official of Shahjalal Islami Bank who have allegedly embezzled Tk 110 crore.
Contrary to our expectation that the big loan defaulters    
would face punishment, the government reschedules their loan of thousands of crores taka on easy terms. As if they have a right to use to and not return.not to back.the public money as theirs! The HC pertinently asked the ACC, "Will the big loan defaulters remain untouched? The commission is busy catching small time loan defaulters, but not the major ones?"
While making these observations, the judges must have in their mind a suspicious loan grant from the Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) of Tk 2,460 crore which the circles within the bank described  as 'dangerous November' for the bank. In this month the IBBL provided this money to companies, some of which reportedly exist only in paper. Giving such a huge amount of money within just 17 days seemed very unusual and it is apprehended that much of the money has already been laundered out of the country.
The IBBL, the most reputed bank of the country, is now suffering a trust deficit among its clients. It is now open knowledge that after the government stepped into the IBBL for political reasons about a decade ago, the bank fell prey to companies owned by businessmen directly linked to the party in power. After the Hallmark scam, Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, BASIC bank became the targets of easy borrowing. Now the Sharia-based banks are their targets. Economists are doubtful whether loans given by the IBBL and two other Islami banks would get the money back.    
In contrast, small loan defaulters are under tight pressure from banks and too eager to sell the properties at lower prices without considering the dire condition of the economy of the country.

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