Basic bank scam cases: Complete probe in 3 months or face action
Issuing a strong warning to the Anti-Corruption Commission over its failure to press charges in any of the 56 Basic Bank loan scam cases in the last seven years, the High Court yesterday directed the graft watchdog to complete the investigations of the cases and submit the reports to the lower court concerned in three months "without fail".
If the ACC fails to submit the investigation reports in three months after receiving the verdict and order of the HC, appropriate legal action would be taken against the commission, the HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat Lizu said in a verdict.
The HC bench delivered the judgment after holding a hearing on three rules that asked the ACC and the state to explain why Mohammad Ali, former manager of the state-owned Basic Bank's Shantinagar branch, should not be granted bail in three graft cases filed by the ACC.
The HC, however, denied him bail saying that he as the key official of the bank's Shantinagar branch cannot avoid the responsibility of the misappropriation of money.
It appears from the relevant documents that being the branch manager, Mohammad Ali sent the loan proposals to the bank's head office for approval without properly evaluating the values of the mortgaged properties, the HC said.
The verdict said there is no scope for taking the offences of money laundering and loan defaulting leniently.
"There are so many countries in the world where money launderers and loan defaulters are not allowed to use credit cards, get air tickets for travelling abroad, hold the position of chief executive officer of any company and enjoy the facilities provided by the state like the ordinary people do. In our country, a law has been enacted barring the loan defaulters from contesting any election," the HC bench said in the verdict.
Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder, presiding judge of the bench, also said, "We are talking against corruption and corrupt people for the welfare of the people and the state."
Details of the HC verdict could not be known as its written version was yet to be released.
After the delivery of the verdict, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star that the commission was taking time for completing the investigations as it needed to collect relevant information and evidence.
Around 2,300 witnesses of the 56 cases have been examined so far, he said, adding that the investigations were at the final stage.
Khurshid said Mohammad Ali is accused in 12 cases involving Tk 424 crore and there are specific allegations against him of misappropriation of money.
Replying to a question, the lawyer said statements from Basic Bank's former chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu have been taken in connection with six cases, and he will be implicated in those if his involvement in embezzlement of the bank's money is found.
Mohammad Ali's lawyer SM Abul Hossain told this correspondent that he will take the next course of action after the ACC submits the investigation reports to the trial court concerned.
Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the state during hearing of the rules yesterday.
The HC issued three rules on different dates in 2020 and 2021, asking the ACC and the state to explain why Mohammad Ali, who has been in jail since June 9, 2019, should not be granted bail in the three graft cases.
On Monday, the HC bench expressed disappointment at the embezzlement of large amounts of money from the Basic Bank and the ACC's failure to press charges in any of the 56 cases.
According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, around Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of bank between 2009 and 2013 when Bacchu chaired the board of the bank.