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Basic Bank Loan Scam: HC asks ACC to investigate Bacchu, board members

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FT ONLINE

The High Court yesterday directed the Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the alleged involvement of former BASIC Bank chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu and its board members in a Tk 40 crore loan scam.

The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim gave the ACC 60 days to complete its enquiry into how the loan was approved by the state-run bank’s Shantinagar branch in 2010.

ACC lawyer Syed Mamun Mahbub said that the Board of Directors of BASIC Bank and its then chairman Bacchu approved the Tk 40 crore loan to Syed Mahbubul Gani, managing partner of Ms Syed Traders, ignoring the bank’s credit committee’s recommendations.

He said the officials had approved the loan without proper documents of the borrower.

According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, about Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of BASIC Bank between 2009 and 2013 when Bacchu chaired the board of the bank.

However, this is the first instance in which the bank’s former chairman has been brought under the purview of investigations in connection with swindling out money in the name of loans.

On July 14, 2014, Bangladesh Bank sent a report on the BASIC Bank scam to the ACC, detailing how people embezzled money from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts.

After primary investigation, ACC filed around two dozen cases in September 2015 accusing over 20 bank officials and two dozen borrowing firms.

The HC bench yesterday issued the order after hearing an appeal against the bail given to Shahjahan Ali, an accused in one of the loan scam cases and chief surveyor and managing partner of Rupsha Surveyors.

The HC upheld Shahjahan’s bail given by a lower court.

Metropolitan Session Judges’ Court in Dhaka on September 28, 2016, granted Shahjahan bail. He was arrested on August 10, 2016.

Later, the ACC filed a review petition with the High Court challenging the lower court’s order.

Lawyer Mamun Mahbub said now the ACC would investigate whether the then chairman of BASIC Bank and board of directors were involved in the loan scam.

The commission could press charges against them if they were found guilty, he said, adding that the commission could even arrest them if it thought they could go on the run.

In May 2014, the central bank fired BASIC Bank managing director Kazi Fakhrul Islam for presiding over a period of serious irregularities at the state-run bank.

Bangladesh Bank found him to be culpable in seven counts, including lack of sound management, failure to protect depositors’ interest, and loan irregularities.

According to the central bank’s probes, BASIC Bank had given loans without verification of customers’ creditworthiness and proper documents. The lender also extended loans to defaulters.

Most of the irregularities were in the bank’s Dilkusha, Shantinagar and Gulshan branches.

-SAM

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