The Bangladesh Bank has asked Sonali Bank to settle overdue payment of Tk 1,372.03 crore to 36 local and foreign banks in the country against its acceptance
bills which are being investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission.
The BB on June 6 issued a letter to the managing director and chief executive officer of Sonali Bank asking the state-owned commercial bank to settle the acceptance bills which were issued by the bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch.
The bank will have to settle the inland bills of back-to-back letters of credit on its own consideration by following international best practice of banking regulations, the BB letter said.
Sonali Bank has arguing for long that it can not settle the acceptance bills as the ACC is now investigating into the bills.
Sonali Bank submitted a report on its non-funded liabilities of acceptance bills on June 2 saying that its overall non-funded liabilities is Tk 1,372.03 crore against the acceptance bills of 2,342.
An investigation by the Bangladesh Bank revealed in 2012 that Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch had lent Hallmark Group and five other companies Tk 3,606.48 crore between 2007 and May, 2012 on fake documents against back-to-back LCs.
Of Tk 3,606.48 crore, the non-funded liabilities of Sonali Bank to 36 banks is Tk 13,72.03 crore.
The 36 banks complained a number of times to the central bank to get their payments from Sonali Bank.
Some banks earlier took initiatives to file case against Sonali Bank to settle the inland bills.
But, Sonali Bank argued that a large number of those claims were not genuine as some fake business organisations involved with the embezzlement. The 36 banks played role as exporter banks on behalf of the organisations.
Moreover, the ACC is now investigating the issue, so it is not possible to settle the bills, argued Sonali Bank.
The BB, however, asked Sonali Bank in its latest letter to settle the inland bills despite the ACC’s investigation as the central bank is facing severe pressure from the victim banks.
Besides, the BB asked the bank to a submit report by 10 working days about the inland bills which were settled between June 2012 and March 2013.
A Sonali Bank official told New Age on Thursday that his bank had recently formed a high profile committee to scrutinise the disputed inland bills.
The committee suggested that the board of directors of Sonali Bank paying Tk 150.26 crore against inland bills of 586.
Sonali Bank managing director Prodip Kumar Dutta told New Age that he had received the BB letter and his bank would take initiatives in this regard.
He said, ‘Sonali Bank has already settled some inland bills worth Tk 150 crore to Tk 200 crore to some claimant banks.’
His bank’s management is now talking to legal experts about the BB’s letter as the central bank asked to settle the inland bills which are now being investigated by the ACC, Prodip said.
‘We will take final decision in the matter after getting the suggestions from lawyers,’ he said.
A BB official said that Janata Bank was the top in the overdue payment list of Sonali Bank with Tk 314.66 crore. The overdue payments for Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank and BASIC Bank are Tk 266,20 crore, Tk 99 crore and Tk 26.40 crore respectively.
-With New Age input