Nobody “knows” where it is.
The 4,500 crore taka laundered from BASIC bank between 2009 and 2013 has apparently just disappeared.
This amount of money is enough to have paid for a month’s primary school education expenses of 56 lakh students at the current government rate.
If the government data on age-old allowance is taken into account, the money could be used to almost double the number of people under the scheme to around 75 lakh people per year.
But investigators of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) are yet to even trace the whereabouts of the money or submit any chargesheets in the 56 cases filed in 2015 over the disappearance.
Without these, the four-year long investigation remains stalled.
Pointing out the ACC’s failure in taking action against BASIC Bank former chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu, ruling party lawmaker Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on Monday said the ACC chairman should resign if he fails to discharge his responsibilities.
Taposh said even before the ACC’s investigation had begun, a parliamentary standing committee had held Bacchu responsible for the scam.
In the four years between 2009 and 2013, about Tk 4,500 crore was swindled out of BASIC bank, once a healthy public bank, when Bacchu was its chairman.
“For that reason, the government removed him from the post, but Bacchu was not made accused in any of the 56 cases filed over the BASIC Bank loan scam,” he said, adding the ACC’s accountability was essential in this regard.
ACC Secretary Dilwar Bakth, however, yesterday told the media that he could not understand the reason behind the demand for resignation of Commission Chairman Iqbal Mahmood.
Talking to journalists at his office, he said investigators were the ones looking into the matter, so the commissioners or chairman are not responsible for any failure.
“Therefore, it is not understandable why the question of resignation was brought up,” he added.
Asked why Bacchu had not been chargesheeted in any of the cases, the ACC secretary said no one could be implicated until the money or its whereabouts were found.
“Once we get answers to the questions -- where did the money go, how was it converted and who was behind it -- we will submit a charge-sheet against those responsible,” said Bakth.
He also claimed that the swindled money was not transferred to any account, but rather withdrawn in cash in phases.
“Had the money been kept in any bank account, then it could have been traced,” he said.
In July 2017, the High Court ordered the ACC to look into the alleged involvement of Bacchu and other directors in the scam.
Disappointed at the sluggish probe and the ACC’s failure to catch the big fish, the HC, during a hearing last year, said, “We have to cover our faces in shame.”
In line with the directive, Bacchu was quizzed five times. The Commission also questioned all the directors of the then board.
The central bank, in its probe report, detailed how borrowers embezzled money from the state lender through fake companies and suspicious accounts.
The 47-page report, which includes a list of borrowers, gives a detailed account of how the loans were approved and then withdrawn in clear violations of bank rules.
The report said BASIC Bank’s board and its credit committee at the headquarters ignored the negative observations from the bank’s branches on a number of loan proposals, and approved those without following due diligence.
The report was sent to ACC in 2014.