Monday, September 25, 2023

Gone with greed

It was the lure of high profits that drove Mohiuddin Robin to deposit money with a cooperative society. But it wasn’t long before the 31-year-old was overcome with a sense of despair.
Robin found out that the cooperative society was a fraud and all his money was gone.
Robin, his family members, relatives and friends invested Tk 44 lakh in the cooperative society that promised to give a 24 percent annual profit (Tk 2,000 a month for Tk 1 lakh). Now, his relatives are putting pressure on him to return their money.
Many like him were cheated by Pubali Multipurpose Cooperative Society that took Tk 19 crore from 220 non-members between 2006 and 2009. Many of the victims are women who now face severe financial crisis.
The mastermind behind the fraud is Syed Ali Ahsan, who changed his name to Syed Ali Ashraf to become the chairman of the cooperative society. Interestingly, 17 of the 22 cooperative society members are his family members and relatives.
A section of cooperative officials helped Ali run illegal banking in the guise of a cooperative society.
“Ahsan has made a fortune. He built a 10-storey building at Siddhirganj in Dhaka, and another in his village home at Choddogram in Comilla with people’s money,” said Hasan Imam Firoz, who became the cooperative’s managing director in March, 2010.
Ali also set up a CNG station and a few other companies with people’s money. He is now involved with controversial Destiny Group, said Firoz.
After taking charge, Firoz found massive anomalies in the cooperative’s activities during an audit. When Firoz pressed Ali to return the depositors their money, Ali and his brother with the help of a cooperative officer removed Firoz from office and filed two general diaries against him.
Firoz and his wife invested hefty amounts in the cooperative society but they did not disclose the exact amount.
Getting registered in March 2005, Pubali Multipurpose Cooperative Society started collecting money through advertisements and offered Tk 2,000 as interest per month for a deposit of Tk 1 lakh.
Some depositors received the offered interest till December 2008. But, in January 2009, they suddenly found the cooperative’s Paltan office closed and realised that they had been cheated.
Robin joined the cooperative as an employee in October 2005. In early 2006, one of his friends influenced him to invest Tk 2 lakh in the cooperative society. Robin later encouraged his family members, relatives and friends to deposit money with the firm.
He invested Tk 15 lakh in phases and his relatives and friends Tk 29 lakh through him. Now they all want their money back.
“I have been hiding for the last one year…even my family members are under pressure,” said Robin.
Yasmin Sultana, whose husband is abroad, invested Tk 30 lakh and Zohura Begum in Jatrabari Tk 8 lakh in the cooperative society. Md Tareq, a senior banker at a private bank, deposited Tk 24 lakh with the cooperative society.
They all made the investments for interest at a much higher rate than in commercial banks, post office or other savings instruments.
Many organisations like Pubali are collecting crores of taka from people in the name of cooperative societies. Destiny-2000 that started as an MLM company in 2000 established a cooperative firm after a few years to collect money from people easily.
“Nearly 30,000 cooperative organisations are involved in banking activities. If Destiny faces government action, all these cooperatives must face the same fate,” Mohammad Rafiqul Amin, chairman of Destiny Group, told The Daily Star recently.
Destiny recently came under the regulators’ scanner for its illegal activities that include unlawful banking. But many others like Pubali remain out of the government scanner.
“We get a lot of complaints from depositors like those of Pubali. But we cannot investigate all for manpower shortage,” said a senior official at the Department of Cooperatives. He said there are only 30-40 people to oversee the activities of 7,000-8,000 cooperative societies.
Iqbal Hossain, additional registrar of the Department, said some loopholes in the existing laws allow these companies to cheat people.
The loopholes include automatic registration of a cooperative society for the authority’s failure to register it in 60 days of application, and allowing cooperative societies to collect deposits from non-members.
The cabinet yesterday approved the draft of the Cooperative Society (Amendment) Act, 2012 with provisions of up to seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of Tk 10 lakh for running illegal banking. The draft law proposes preventing cooperative societies from taking deposits from non-members.

-With The Daily Star input

Related News

Information and communication technology for sustainable development was the focus of the 2nd international conference

News Desk : The three-day-long 2nd international conference on ‘Information and Communication Technology for Sustainable Development’ organised by Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) has successfully concluded on Saturday (23 September). In the closing ceremony, the chief patron of this conference BUP Vice Chancellor Major General Md Mahbub-ul Alam awarded certificates to three outstanding research ... Read more

3 children run over by train in Mohakhali

News Desk : Three young lives were cut short on the street of Dhaka as they were struck by a train on Saturday morning. The incident occurred at 6am in Mohakhali area, when a train en route from Kamalapur to Dewanganj hit the children as they attempted to cross the railway tracks. The children, ... Read more

World Bank approves $300 million to accelerate learning for Bangladesh’s secondary education

News Desk : World Bank has approved a $300 million fund to help Bangladesh recover from learning losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic It will introduce supplementary online learning combined with in-class teaching to strengthen system resilience, improve learning outcomes and teaching quality, and reduce school dropouts, says a World Bank press release. “Bangladesh ... Read more

10th Asian Tourism Fair begins in Dhaka

News Desk : A three-day regional tourism fair aimed at promoting cross-border connections, improving cultural exchanges and boosting economic growth has begun in the capital. The fair styled ’10th Asian Tourism Fair and Bangladesh Tourism Development Summit 2023′ began at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center on Thursday. Md Mahbub Ali, state minister for civil ... Read more

49 athletes selected for admission with DU Sports Quota

News Desk : Dhaka University has released the list of 49 students initially selected to the 2022-23 undergraduate academic session for the sports quota . The list was published on Sunday (September 17) in a circular from the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences, and Law. The athletes include Towhid Hridoy, ... Read more

NID server will remain down for maintenance until 2:00 p.m tomorrow

News Desk : The National Identity Card (NID) server of the Election Commission (EC) has been down since this morning due to maintenance reasons, the Election Commission’s Information System Management Officer Aminul Islam said today. “It is to inform everyone that the NID server is undergoing maintenance. Due to this all services will remain ... Read more

Pushed off from moving bus in Gazipur, RMG worker dies

News Desk : A female garment worker died after she was allegedly pushed off a moving bus following an argument with the helper of the bus over fare on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway of Gazipur district on Friday night. The deceased was identified as Champa Begum, 30, wife of Abul Kalam of Mymensingh district. The incident ... Read more

From January to August 2023, 361 students commit suicide

News Desk : At least 361 school, college, madrassah and university students across Bangladesh killed themselves in the last eight months, revealed a study on Saturday. Aachol Foundation, a social organisation initiated by students, conducted the study titled — Students Suicide Rate Increasing: Which Way the Solution?— from January 2023 to August based on ... Read more

SSC exams in 2024 likely to start in February, HSC in June

News Desk : The Secondary School Certificate examinations of 2024 are likely to start from the second week of February, according to a notice issued by different education boards on Tuesday. The Higher Secondary Certificate examinations of 2024 are likely to start from the second week of June, another notice issued by the boards ... Read more

Microbus catches fire on Purbachal Expressway

News Desk : A running microbus caught fire near Kanchan Bridge on Purbachal Expressway in Narayanganj’s Rupganj upazila this afternoon causing temporary tailback on the busy road. However, there were no report of casualties, reports our Narayanganj correspondent. Two firefighting units of Purbachal station brought the fire under control. Station chief of local fire ... Read more

Nine arrested for storming train, robbing belongings in Tongi

News Desk : Robbers boarded the Dhaka-bound Karnaphuli Express train when it was stopped near Gazipur’s Tongi last night and robbed its passengers. Nine people were arrested with sharp weapons and mobile phones in connection with the robbery, Ferdaus Ahmed Biswas, officer-in-charge (OC) of Dhaka Railway Police Station, told our local correspondent today. The ... Read more

Parts of Bangladesh likely to see light to moderate rain

News Desk : Light to moderate rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty wind is likely to occur at most places over Rangpur, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions, at many places over Dhaka, Barishal and Chattogram divisions and at a few places over Rajshahi and Khulna divisions. Moderately heavy to heavy falls may occur at ... Read more

2 bodies washed ashore in St Martin’s Island

News Desk : Police have recovered the partially decomposed bodies of two unidentified men washed away by the tide on the beach of St Martin’s Island under Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar. The bodies were found on the beach about 4 kilometres south of St. Martin’s Jetty, at about 8:00am on Friday. Police estimated one ... Read more

Another physician dies from dengue in Dhaka

News Desk : A female doctor died of dengue at Dhaka Medical College Hospital early Friday. The victim, Mosammat Sharifa Binte Aziz, 27, died at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital at about 5:00am while undergoing treatment there. Sharifa is a daughter of Aziz Bhuiyan of Joypara village under Dohar upazila in Dhaka ... Read more

Car accident on Dhaka-Barisal highway kills intern physician

News Desk : An intern physician of a private medical college was killed yesterday after her car collided with a roadside tree at Gourandi on Dhaka-Barishal highway. Gournadi Highway Police Sub Inspector Mamun said the accident took place at 7:00am yesterday. According to the SI, Iqra Binte Hafiz (27), an intern physician of Medical ... Read more

Landslide kills Rohingya woman, her daughter in Ukhiya camp

News Desk : A Rohingya woman and her daughter were killed in a landslide on the foot of a hillock in Balukhali Rohingya camp -9 under Ukhiya upazila in Cox’s Bazar Monday late afternoon. The deceased are Jannat Ara, 28, wife of Anwar Islam, and their two-year old daughter Mahim Akhter. Armed Police Battalion ... Read more

Sundarbans inundated due to rain and tidal wave

News Desk : Heavy rain caused by a a depression in the bay and a tidal wave caused by the full moon have inundated the low-lying areas of Bagerhat. According to the additional district commissioner Hafiz Al Asad, 750 families in the district are currently suffering from the waterlogging disaster. However, locals said the ... Read more

‘Uncle, nephew murdered by colleagues’

Reveals PBI after a 5-year probe into death of two press workers News Desk : Two bodies, two mysteries unsolved. In November 2017, press worker Sohel Mia was beaten unconscious by unidentified assailants. He later succumbed to his injuries in a Dhaka hospital. His distant uncle, Iqbal Hossain, initially faced blame for the murder ... Read more

Two children drown in Habiganj

News Desk : Two children drowned in separate incidents in Habiganj’s Bahubal and Shayestaganj upazilas yesterday. The deceased are Rihan Mia, 3, of Barlaria village in Shayestaganj and Toha Mia, 6, of Bahubal. Nazmul Haque Kamal, OC of Shayestaganj Police Station, said Rihan fell into a puddle near his home in the afternoon. Acting ... Read more

Five killed in road accidents

News Desk : At least five people were killed in road accidents yesterday, according to reports from our correspondents. In Rajshahi, three people were killed on the Rajshahi-Naogaon highway in Rajshahi’s Mohanpur upazila in the morning. The deceased are Abul Hossain, 55, Zahangir Alam, 45, and Azibar Rahman, 35. The accident happened as a ... Read more