12:00 AM, December 19, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 19, 2012

Editorial

Committee fails to trace the money trail

Tk. 2,700 crore still missing

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After much hype, the committee entrusted to track down the single largest banking scam in the country has nothing much to report, save the fact that a mere Tk. 400cr has been traced. The bulk of the siphoned off cash to the tune of some Tk. 2,700cr remains elusive. It is intriguing to see the managing director of Hall-Mark group being treated with such leniency. Apparently the gentleman has neither answered queries of the committee nor furnished any documentation.
If we are to go by what has been presented in the committee's report, physical assets worth no more than Tk. 300cr are in possession of the group. Hence, in all probability, the rest Tk. 2,700cr may have been channeled out of the country. If that be the case the local currency had to be converted to some foreign currency before such transfer took place. Given the very large sums involved, it is likely that such transfer did not go through informal banking channels like hoondi. That means the formal banking channels may have been used and transactions using the banking channels always leave a paper trail. Unless the committee was exceptionally callous and there is no reason to indicate this since its members have considerable banking and financial expertise, where does that leave us?
By what means Hall-Mark group managed to hoodwink and buy over bank management officials and the regulator is all old news. Armed with facts and figures and having incarcerated some of the main perpetrators who have confessed to their complicity, the amply empowered parliamentary probe committee ought to have done a better job than this. Are we to assume that there is an attempt by quarters unknown to hush up the entire matter? Coming up with suggestions on how to prevent further such incidents does not absolve the committee of its responsibility to fully detect and recover the substantial public funds that were siphoned off.

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