Laundering Tk 165 Crore: Ex-AB Bank chair held
12:00 AM, January 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:19 AM, January 26, 2018

Laundering Tk 165 Crore: Ex-AB Bank chair held

The Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday arrested former chairman of AB Bank M Wahidul Haque along with a businessman and a senior banker in connection with a case filed over laundering of around Tk 165 crore between 2013 and 2014.

Wahidul, businessman Saiful Haque and Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, former head of AB Bank's corporate treasury, were arrested in the capital's Segunbagicha after the watchdog filed a case with Motijheel Police Station accusing eight including the three.

The arrestees were produced before a court which granted bail to Wahidul and Mostafa but sent Saiful on a three-day remand, said ACC's Assistant Director Gulshan Anowar Pradhan, plaintiff of the case.

The other accused in the case are ex-managing directors M Fazlur Rahman and Shamim Ahmed Chaudhury; Mohammad Lokman, head of Offshore Banking Unit; Mohammad Mahuz Ul Islam, vice president of corporate treasury department, and Nurul Azim, senior vice president.

Based on a report of Bangladesh Bank, this newspaper published a news item on December 17 last year over the alleged laundering of the amount to the UAE.

The ACC began inquiry into the matter and quizzed at least 17 persons between December 28 and January 8.

According to the case statement, “Saiful introduced his friends and members of international fraud syndicate Khurram Abdullah and Abdus Samad Khan to Wahidul to launder money from the AB Bank.”

Saiful, who is the chairman of Sky Aviation Services, general sales agent of FlyDubai, is believed to be one of the kingpins of the laundering syndicate.

“They held several meetings in Dubai,” reads the case statement, also saying Wahidul and Mostafa held the meetings without informing proper authorities.

The syndicate created Pinnacle Global Fund (PGF), a Singapore-based fundraising and investment company, and opened an account of a company named Cheng Bao General Trading LLC at the UAE-based ADCB Bank, as per the FIR.

Later, Wahidul and Mostafa prepared a draft agreement and presented it at the 539th board meeting of the bank.

The board imposed conditions that after the release of $60 million by PGF, the AB Bank will deposit its $20 million bank guarantee to an account that would be operated jointly by the AB Bank and the PGF.

Finally, the AB Bank struck a deal with the PGF to invest $20 million on condition that the firm will give it eight percent interest and invest $80 million in it within 95 days of getting the $20 million.

“But for that, the AB Bank must have to take approval from Bangladesh Bank,” reads the case statement, adding that Wahidul and Mostafa were also given condition that they would need the board's approval before signing the contract.

In its inquiry, the ACC found that the accused prepared the contract omitting “bank guarantee” and did not present it before the AB Bank's board.

Wahidul and Fazlur were the signatories to the contract.

In the interrogation, the ACC found that Wahidul and Mostafa flew to Dubai and got signatures of two representatives of the PGF. However, there were no mention of names and addresses of the signatories of the PGF in the contract.

From Dubai, Mostafa directed his subordinates in the AB Bank to transfer $20 million to the account of Cheng Bao General Trading LLC at ADCB Bank.

Without informing the central bank, Nurul, on the instruction of Wahidul and Mostafa, released $5 million on February 10, 2014; $5 million on February 12, 2014 and $10 million on February 13, 2014 from OBU unit of the AB Bank's Chittagong EPZ branch.

“Soon after the transfer of the money, the account was closed. The Singapore-based PGF Company had also been found non-existent since May 12, 2016,” reads the case statement.

Besides, on Saiful's instruction, the AB Bank also sent $25,000 as “consultancy fees” to another account of the fraud syndicate.

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