Wednesday, December 6, 2023

30pc stakeholders ‘fake’

Destiny Cooperative Society
30pc stakeholders ‘fake’ 
Finds probe body, manipulation done to show astronomical growth, lure innocent
Destiny Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd (DMCSL), the cash cow of controversial Destiny Group, enrolled at least 30 percent fictitious members in the shareholders’
list to show a massive growth rate to its existing and would-be members.
The Department of Cooperatives (DoC), principal government organisation to facilitate and regulate cooperative societies, has detected this in an investigation that
took over three months to complete.
The investigation report is to be submitted to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives in a week.
The DoC probe committee detected massive irregularities — from recruitment of members to investment, spending and overvaluation of assets — in DMCSL activities.
“We are puzzled. We have found irregularities everywhere in DMCSL and all these were done to cheat people,” Amiya Kumer Chattapadhay, additional registrar and head of
the probe committee, told The Daily Star yesterday.
“We found 30 percent of 8.5 lakh DMCSL members fictitious. They have no real addresses,” said Amiya.
The management of Destiny has also violated laws by investing in other companies without the prior approval of the DoC, he said.
According to laws, a cooperative society must take approval from the DoC for an investment worth over Tk 5 lakh.
But DoC documents show, DMCSL applied to the cooperative authority seeking permission for an investment of over Tk 356 crore in 34 entities in 2011-12.
“When we reviewed Destiny’s audit report for 2010-11, we found it had already invested in 27 entities which is a gross violation of laws,” said Amiya.
DoC investigation also found that most of these entities exist only on paper.
Over the past few months, Destiny Group came under the spotlight following a Bangladesh Bank enquiry that found proof of illegal banking by DMCSL.
Illegal banking by the co-operative was creating disorder in the country’s financial sector, said the BB probe report, which prompted different government agencies,
including the DoC, to carry out investigation against Destiny Group.
The controversial cooperative firm has seen an astronomical rise in its capital, shareholders, profit and investment since 2009. It obtained registration from the DoC
in 2005.
The company’s paid-up capital increased to nearly Tk 300 crore in 2009-10 from Tk 5.53 crore a year ago. The figure jumped to nearly Tk 1,200 crore in 2010-11. DMCSL’s
paid up capital was Tk 1.62 crore in 2006-07.
Loans and investments grew to Tk 569 crore in 2010-11 from less than Tk 23 crore in 2008-09; they rose by over 213 percent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Also, the number of shareholders grew to more than 6.4 lakh in 2010-11 from mere 167 in 2006-07. The number was shown as 8.5 lakh in 2011-12, said DoC officials.
“We picked some names from the members’ list to verify and later found at least 30 percent of the total shareholder fake,” said the head of the DoC probe committee,
adding that Destiny might had fuelled the number of members intentionally so that people would feel encouraged to become a member.
Amiya said as of June 30, 2011, the firm showed Tk 656 crore in assets whereas it actually spent the amount for research and development.
“Most of the Tk 656 crore was spent on paying commission to its existing members, but the sum has been shown as asset. It is not acceptable to any accounting
explanation,” he said.
The report found that Destiny had overvalued its assets to fuel its books of account. An asset, which had been bought with Tk 55 crore, was shown worth Tk 77 crore
after a year.
The top management of Destiny also cheated people with its tree plantation programme. The DoC report found that a package for tree plantation programme had been
offered at Tk 10,000 saying that half the amount would be paid by customers while the other half by DMCSL.
“In reality DMCSL paid nothing,” said Amiya.
The probe report also found a huge gap between collection of money and investment. The additional registrar gave an instance saying that suppose, it had collected Tk
50, but invested only Tk 10.
“The remaining amount was spent for commissions, purchase of expensive cars, air conditioner and office decoration etc,” found the report.
Rafiqul Amin, chairman of DMCSL, could not be reached for comments.
After a two-month investigation, the Anti Corruption Commission on Tuesday sued 22 top officials of Destiny Group, including its chairman Rafiqul Amin and director Lt
Gen (rtd) M Harunur Rashid for money laundering.

-With The Daily Star input

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