Wednesday, June 19, 2024

3 lakh victims yet to get money back

Tk 2,588cr Swindling by Jubok
3 lakh victims yet to get money back 
More than 3 lakh clients of Jubok have been waiting for years now to get back the money they deposited with the fraudster, mainly because of government’s indecision.
None of these people, who were lured by Jubok into depositing their hard earned money for big returns, has got a penny back even five months after a government commission recommended returning their money — about Tk 2,588 crore — by selling Jubok’s assets.
The government says it cannot do so because of legal issues. Officials cannot say when and how these “legal issues” would be resolved.
Aiming to return the money, the government formed two commissions, one in 2010 and the other in 2011, headed by former governor of Bangladesh Bank Mohammad Farashuddin and former joint secretary Rafiqul Islam.
According to their reports, 3.03 lakh people have lost to Jubok’s forgery about Tk 2,588 crore.
Contacted, Banking Division Secretary M Aslam Alam said, “In the reports, the commissions have identified problems, but not solutions.”
The second commission submitted its report in May this year but the finance ministry has yet to “find a way” to return the money to the affected people.
Following the submission of the report, the Division held several meetings, the last being in the last month, but could not make a decision in this regard.
Officials said they would soon sit with the finance minister to discuss the matter.
The Rafiqul Islam-led commission suggested that the government should appoint an administrator who will take Jubok’s assets into his custody, sell those and return the money to the customers.
It also said until an administrator could be appointed the relevant deputy commissioner and upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) might act as the custodian of the assets.
The commission also identified 40 people who embezzled customers’ money, and recommended filing cases against them.
On the appointment of an administrator, the Banking Division secretary said the existing law did not permit this.
According to him, this can only be done through passage of a law or through a High Court order, both of which will take a long time.
He said they would seek law ministry’s advice in this regard.
Asked about filing cases against the fraudsters, he said they already requested the home ministry to take action against them.
As for forming two commissions and yet not finding any solution, the secretary said the commissions repeatedly sought time for submission of their reports and the ones they submitted “are not comprehensive”.
But he added the commissions had many limitations, and that was why they could not properly assess the value of Jubok’s total assets.
The commission report in this regard said Jubok authorities did not cooperate in the investigation.
However, the assets the commission could find in Dhaka and adjoining areas would be worth Tk 3,000 crore.
The commission report said the “evil rise” of Jubok was possible because of the direct and indirect favours by sitting ministers, lawmakers, political leaders, bureaucrats and other influential people.
Educated, half-educated and uneducated people from different sections of the society fell prey to Jubok’s trap, it added.
Jubok was registered in 1997 under The Societies Registration Act, 1860. It collected huge deposits by luring people with the promise of high interest.
Following media reports, the central bank in 2005 opened an investigation and found many irregularities in its operations. Subsequently, the government banned all of its activities.

-With The Daily Star input

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