BB’s poor performance as a regulatory authority
Recently, the High Court heavily criticised the Bangladesh Bank for a section of its officials' alleged links with financial scams involving non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs). In its observation, the court clearly mentioned how a section of BB's top officials remained silent about financial irregularities in the NBFIs, taking undue benefits from the scammers between 2002 and 2019. Unfortunately, after starting the process of liquidating the poorly performing NBFIs in June 2019, the BB could not yet recover the depositors' money from those who defaulted on loans from the People's Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (PLFSL).
The fact that a former deputy governor and a sitting executive director have had "alleged" links with the fraudsters at the NBFIs for a long time raises questions about the internal governance mechanism of the BB. How could these top officials ignore their responsibility of protecting the NBFIs and get involved with the fraudsters instead? Reportedly, they had links with the scammers of the NBFIs not for a year or two, but for 17 years. How did they escape the monitoring mechanism of the BB? The Bangladesh Bank, being the regulatory authority of all the banking and non-banking financial institutions of the country, must answer these questions. Its inefficiency in checking the financial anomalies in the NBFIs has led at least 10 of 36 NBFIs operating in the country to be in dire straits now.
We also question the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in this regard since it has not taken proper action against the wrongdoers in most cases, as the court also stated. What we do not understand is, if the court could reach its verdict based on the evidence in hand, why couldn't the ACC do so given that it has the authority to probe such cases and arrest those involved? Reportedly, while the ACC filed cases against some of the scamsters, when it came to making the arrests, it could not make much progress.
Questions also need to be asked about the role our finance ministry has played all this time to handle these issues. Did the ministry give proper directives to the BB to check these massive irregularities (since there have been extensive media reports on these financial scams)? While we understand that Bangladesh Bank is the regulatory authority of these NBFLs, the finance ministry also cannot shrug off its responsibility in this regard.
We now want a thorough investigation into the alleged links of the BB officials with financial scams of the NBFLs. The reasons behind the BB's failure to stop the irregularities must be found out. We also urge the BB to take active measures to pay back the depositors their money. People's trust in the BB is already on the wane. It must gain back their trust by taking steps against its errant officials. As for the ACC, we think it also should be held accountable for not performing its duty properly. If the ACC fails to do its work and its officials get involved in corruption, there will be no hope left for the people to get justice for the wrongs committed against them.