BASIC Bank: JP MP, husband sued over Tk 275cr scam
12:00 AM, January 11, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:24 AM, January 11, 2018

BASIC Bank: JP MP, husband sued over Tk 275cr scam

HC orders probe into assets of 2 ex-officials

Jatiya Party lawmaker Mahjabeen Morshed and her husband have been sued for Tk 275-crore loan scam at the state-run BASIC Bank.

The Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday filed two cases against Mahjabeen, her husband JP leader Morshed Murad Ibrahim and three others over the scam.

According to the statements of the cases, the bank's board approved Tk 186.93 crore loans to two companies owned by the JP lawmaker and her husband between 2010 and 2012 though the bank's Agrabad branch in Chittagong city advised against sanctioning the loans, terming it “risky”.

Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu was the bank's chairman at that time.

Now the loan amount stands at Tk 275 crore, including interest.

The Daily Star has obtained copies of the first information reports (FIRs) lodged with the Double Mooring Police Station in the port city.

The three other accused are BASIC Bank's former managing directors Kazi Faqurul Islam and AKM Sajedur Rahman, and IG Navigations Ltd Director Syed Mozaffar Hossain.

Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday directed the ACC to conduct an enquiry into the properties of former BASIC Bank MD Kazi Faqurul Islam and deputy MD Fazlus Sobhan.

TWO CASES

The statement of one case said Mozaffar, director of IG Navigations Ltd owned by Mahjabeen, submitted an application to the bank's Agrabad branch on December 27, 2010 for loans of Tk 63 crore for importing a ship.

The branch made 20 negative observations on the application.

It said only one of the three directors of the firm had business experience, and it could not verify the price of the ship.

Sanctioning the loan would be risky as the firm did not pledge any collateral and only Tk 1.10 lakh was deposited with the account of the client, Mahjabeen, MD of IG Navigations Ltd.

Besides, Mahjabeen, two-time MP from a seat reserved for women in Chittagong, applied for term loans of Tk 58.86 crore and also Tk 5.64 crore as working capital on June 7, 2011.

BASIC Bank's head office approved her proposals at its 299th board meeting on June 9 that year. The bank's ex-MD Faqurul was solely responsible for placing the loan proposal at the board meeting, said the case statement.

According to the other case statement, Morshed, MD of Crystal Steel and Ship Breaking Limited, applied for two loans -- one for opening a letter of credit (LC) involving Tk 60 crore and another for loan against a trust receipt involving Tk 57 crore on December 22, 2009.

Morshed, also vice president of JP's central committee, opened a current account with the bank's Agrabad branch the same day.

The branch made negative observations on the applications and sent those to the bank's head office on January 2, 2010.

In the observations, the Agrabad branch said it had no business experience with the client and since the applications were made without supportive deposits, it was “risky” to sanction the loans.

The branch also mentioned that there was no information on the company's capital and the loans already taken by it. And the client's current account had a deposit of only Tk 5,000.

However, the following day, the bank's board of directors at its 264th meeting approved the loan proposals and the head office informed the branch about it through a letter on January 13, 2010.

At its 265th meeting on January 20, 2010, the bank's board asked its branch to keep the client's fixed deposit of only Tk 1 crore as security along with 222.32 decimal lands.

Accordingly, the Agrabad branch allowed the borrower to take the loans of Tk 110.43 crore.

Though the branch made negative observations on the loan applications, the bank's ex-MD Sajedur played an active role in approving the loans, mentioned the case statement.

HC DIRECTIVES

The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim gave the order to launch a probe into the properties of Faqurul and Sobhan in a suo moto (voluntary) move during the hearing on the petitions filed by Sobhan for bail in four corruption cases.

The HC ordered an enquiry as the duo held two vital posts of the BASIC Bank when a huge loan scam took place there, Syed Mamun Mahbub, counsel for the ACC, told The Daily Star.   

The HC bench granted bail to Sobhan in the four cases. But he cannot get released from jail, as he has been shown arrested in several other cases, Mahbub said, adding that the other accused, Faqurul, is now aboard.

According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, around Tk 4,500 crore had been siphoned out of BASIC Bank between 2010 and 2013 when Bacchu was its chairman.

On July 14, 2014, the BB sent a report on the scam to the ACC, detailing how people embezzled money from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts.

The BB found that Bacchu illegally influenced the activities of the bank, leaving the once-sound institution in a grave state.

The report outlined how the former chairman abused his power to play an active role in the loan scam.

The central bank first inspected the bank's Gulshan, Shantinagar and Dilkusha branches in 2012 and found evidence of serious anomalies in approving loans.

In 2015, the ACC filed 56 cases over the embezzlement of Tk 2,036 crore from BASIC Bank. But Bacchu was not made an accused in any of the cases.

According to a BASIC Bank report submitted to a parliamentary standing committee last year, some 628 defaulting firms owed Tk 6,538 crore to the bank till June 30 last year.

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