When one applies for a loan at Janata Bank, the application goes through at least five layers of scrutiny. But in case of AnonTex Group, none of these processes seemed to have been followed.
If they were, the apparel exporter should not have been able to take out loans amounting to Tk 5,504 crore -- despite failing to pay back its previous loans.
Not only that, Janata's loans to AnonTex Group accounted for more than 25 percent of the state-owned bank's capital base, which was in violation of the single borrower exposure limit set in the Bank Company Act 1991.
The group, which has an annual turnover of $150 million, has failed to make regular instalment payments, leaving Janata with a massive hole in its capital base.
The loans were disbursed between 2010 and 2015 from the state-owned bank's Janata Bhaban Corporate branch.
Md Abdus Salam Azad, Janata's current managing director, was the general manager of the branch from November 2011 to August 2013 -- when AnonTex got most of the loans. Prior to that, Azad served as the deputy GM of the branch for two years.
Typically, when a credit proposal is received, the branch manager has to verify whether the company has the capacity to repay the loan. The branch then submits the proposal to the credit committee, which is usually headed by the deputy GM.
If the loan application is for more than Tk 1 crore, the proposal must be placed before the board of directors by the MD.
The Janata board gave the go-ahead to all the loan applications of AnonTex Group.
Abul Barkat, a professor of economics at the Dhaka University, served as the chairman of the Janata board from 2009 to 2014.
SM Aminur Rahman was the MD of the state-owned bank between January 2008 and July 2014; he previously served in the same position from September 2004 to December 2006.
“The board of directors and top management are responsible for disbursement of huge amounts of loans to AnonTex Group in gross violation of the credit rules and norms,” said Shaikh Md Wahid-Uz-Zaman, who served as the chairman from December 2014 to December 2017.
He went on to state that disbursement of fresh loans to AnonTex stopped when he joined the bank.
In 2015, the business group restructured loans of Tk 1,095 crore under the central bank's special package for borrowers with loans of Tk 500 crore and above after furnishing down payment of just 1-2 percent instead of the usual 10-15 percent.
But it failed to make any instalment payment, leaving it in the default zone.
Contacted, Azad acknowledged that some of the loans to AnonTex were sanctioned during his tenure as the GM and deputy GM of the Janata Bhaban Corporate branch.
“Adequate collateral had been kept by the bank against the disbursed loan.”
The bank rescheduled some defaulted loans of the group by taking prior approval from the BB, he said, adding that AnonTex's business is performing well.
“We have recently recovered Tk 350 crore from the group,” he added.
But Wahid-Uz-Zaman disputed it.
“The group did not repay a single penny of instalment from its business earnings,” said the immediate past Janata chairman, adding that AnonTex had adjusted some credit by taking fresh loans from the bank.
Aminur, who was the MD when the majority of the loans were sanctioned, said he had placed the credit proposal before the board as per the recommendation of the branch.
He also said permission was taken from the central bank when loans were sanctioned to AnonTex exceeding the single borrower exposure limit.
A Bangladesh Bank document shows Janata was indeed given the go-ahead in September 2014 to sanction a loan to Galaxy Sweaters and Yarn Dyeing, a concern of AnnonTex Group, exceeding the single borrower exposure limit.
But, the central bank tagged the condition that no further loans could be disbursed to the group before adjusting the single borrower limit.
Janata though continued to extend fresh loans until 2015 -- ignoring the central bank's instruction.
Echoing Azad, Aminur said: “AnonTex is capable of refunding the loans.”
Asked why the group has become a defaulter, he said that it was not a matter of concern as a number of well-reputed companies are frequently slipping into the defaulting zone.
Barkat told The Daily Star on Monday that the group had set up industrial units following European standards and its loan repayment was “very good” during his stint as the Janata chairman.
Asked if he had paid a visit to AnonTex's factories, he replied in the negative.
“But top officials of Janata and a number of academicians and students of industrial economics at DU had visited the factories. All of them said the factories were of European standard,” he added.
A Dhaka-based businessman named Md Younus (Badal) is the managing director of AnonTex Group. He could not be reached for comments.
AnonTex was founded in 2004 and is a member of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries.