ACC quizzes AB Bank's ex-chair
Former AB Bank chairman M Wahidul Haque yesterday claimed that the bank had mistakenly sent Tk 165 crore to a bank in the United Arab Emirates, said an ACC official.
A recent Bangladesh Bank report said the commercial bank laundered the amount to the UAE through two shady organisations in the name of investment.
"It was not a mistake. They knew all about it from the very beginning,” said the Anti-Corruption Commission official who interrogated Wahidul yesterday.
Talking to journalists after the quizzing, Wahidul denied his involvement in the money laundering. He did not say anything further.
"Contact the managing director of the bank," he said before hanging up as this correspondent called him over phone for comments later in the day. The Daily Star texted him but he did not reply either.
On December 17, this newspaper published a report on AB Bank's alleged laundering of the amount to the UAE. Later, the ACC took up the issue for investigation.
The Board of Directors of the AB Bank in December 2013 approved investment of $20 million in Singapore-based fundraising and investment company Pinnacle Global Fund Pte Ltd (PGF) through the bank's Offshore Banking Unit (OBU).
In February 2014, the OBU sent the money to an account at the UAE-based Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).
The ADCB account belonged to Cheng Bao General Trading LLC, which acted as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) or a mediator for the PGF. Cheng Bao immediately withdrew the money and closed the account.
A Bangladesh Bank team unearthed all this in an investigation in late October this year and sent it to the anti-graft body on November 15.
Wahidul Haque, two ex-managing directors of the bank -- M Fazlur Rahman and Shamim Ahmed Chaudhury -- and its former head of financial institutions and treasury Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal were directly involved in laundering the money, alleged the BB report.
The ACC began its inquiry and summoned Wahidul and Fazlur for interrogation yesterday.
Both appeared before the anti-graft body around 9:00am. After questioning, Wahidul left the ACC premises around 4:30pm and Fazlur around 5:00pm.
When Wahidul was leaving, journalists asked him about the interrogation. He said, “It won't be appropriate to say anything right now.”
Asked, Fazlur said, “We've given our explanations.”
Sources at the ACC said during the quizzing, both admitted that they had made "mistakes".
“We've made mistakes. We realised it after the money was withdrawn,” the sources quoted Wahidul and Fazlur as saying.
When the ACC's investigation official asked the two whether they could avoid their responsibilities for the incident just by saying they made mistakes, the two kept mum.
"What we've understood is that they laundered the money in collaboration with the others. The former chairman and Mustafa Kamal [former head of financial institutions and treasury of the AB Bank] knew everything,” the official added.
The ACC will grill Mustafa and ex-managing director Shamim on Sunday.
Five other AB Bank's officials -- Mohammad Mahfuz Ul Islam, head of corporate treasury, Mohammad Lokman, head of Offshore Banking Unit, Arif Neaz, OBU at EPZ branch, Mahadeb Sarkar Sumon, company secretary, and MN Azim, who works in financial institutions and treasury section -- have also been summoned on January 2.