27 sued, finally

Hall-Mark Loan Scam
27 sued, finally
After two and a half months’ investigation, the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday filed 11 cases against 27 top officials of Sonali Bank and
Hall-Mark Group for misappropriating over Tk 1,568 crore in depositor’s money.
The sum, which was funded loan meaning given in cash, is part of the more than Tk 2,600-crore credit that the controversial group in collaboration with some bank officials swindled out of the bank using forged documents, according to the investigation.
Seven of the accused are Hall-Mark officials, including its owner Tanvir Mahmud, while the rest are Sonali Bank officials, including its former managing director Humayun Kabir.
The ACC would now try to arrest the accused, said Mir Mohammad Zainul Abedin Shibli, deputy director of the commission, after filing of the cases with Ramna Police Station in the capital.
The cases were filed under anti-money laundering and corruption prevention acts, said Shibli, who led a six-member inquiry team.
“If convicted under the anti-money laundering act, the accused may get up to 10 years in prison and their moveable and immovable properties might also be confiscated,” he told a press briefing at the ACC headquarters.
According to the ACC findings, Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch disbursed over Tk 1,568.49 crore in loan to Hall-Mark between October 2011 and May this year.
“It is not a loan scam; it is the biggest ever misappropriation in the baking industry,” he said, “Sonali Bank officials concerned helped Hall-Mark to embezzle the money by staying till late night in the branch.”
The swindle was done through forged inland bill purchase (IBP), fraudulently showing some of the Hall-Mark officials as owners of various businesses, he said.
The ACC would now look into the wealth of Tanvir Mahmud, his wife and Hall-Mark Chairperson Jasmine Islam and the Sonali Bank directors who were in office when the scam happened, he added.
Asked why no member of the board of directors had been sued, he said the investigation did not find their link in the scam as the approval of the IBPs was not discussed in the board meetings.
On the arrest of the accused, he said: “We are making our highest effort to arrest them. We will also take steps so that they cannot flee the country.”
Meanwhile, Tanvir Mahmud yesterday failed to submit the memorandum of articles and tax information of his companies to a parliamentary sub-committee probing the loan scam.
Tanvir sent a letter to committee chief Tazul Islam, seeking another month for compliance to go into effect, officials in the parliament secretariat said.
The Hall-Mark Group accused are its MD Tanvir Mahmud, Chairperson Jasmine Islam, General Manager Tusher Ahmed and officials Jahangir Alam, Mir Zakaria, Ziaur Rahman and Shahidul Islam.
Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla branch officials: former manager AKM Azizur Rahman, assistant general manager Saiful Hasan and executive officer Md Abdul Matin. The trio has recently been suspended for their alleged involvement in the fraud.
The bank’s Dhanmondi branch officials: Meherun Nesa Merry, senior executive officer, and Wahiduzzaman, former senior officer.
Head office officials: former MD Humayun Kabir, deputy managing director Mainul Haque (now officer on special duty), DMD Atikur Rahman (OSD), General Manager ANM Mashrurul Huda Siraji, GM Nani Gopal Nath (OSD), GM Meer Mahidur Rahman (OSD), former GM Sabita Siraj, Deputy General Manager Sheikh Altaf Hossain (suspended), DGM Bhagobati Majumder (suspended), DGM Shafijuddin Ahmed (suspended), DGM Kaniz Fatema Chowdhury, Assistant General Manager Kamrul Hossain Khan (suspended), AGM Ashraf Ali Patwari (suspended), AGM Abul Hassan and AGM Khurshid Alam.
In May, a Bangladesh Bank investigation revealed serious irregularities at Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla branch in sanctioning and disbursing loans worth Tk 3,547 crore. Of the amount, Hall-Mark Group took Tk 2,686 crore against fake paper.
The BB then instructed the bank to take necessary action against 31 of its officials.
Later, Sonali Bank carried out a functional audit in the branch. The audit found that AKM Azizur Rahman and Saiful Hasan had extended unauthorised loans to Hall-Mark and five other companies. Hall-Mark alone was given Tk 2,667.45 crore.
The audit report said the branch manager demonstrated utter negligence to banking rules in sanctioning those loans.
On August 30, Sonali Bank suspended 17 of its officials over the fraud.
Later on September 3, two deputy managing directors — Atiqur Rahman and Mainul Haque — were made OSDs for their failure in preventing the scam

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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