From the Archives: So far Tk 10,200cr swindled by PK Halder
The amount of money embezzled by Prashanta Kumar Halder alias PK Halder and his associates from four non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) might leave you baffled.
It's neither Tk 2,500 crore nor Tk 3,500 crore --- figures which have been reported by the media lately.
Investigators now say they have so far learnt that the amount is at least Tk 10,200 crore or $120.36 crore.
With the money, at least seven structures like the capital's Mouchak-Moghbazar Flyover could have been built in the country.
Using 30 organisations, owned by Halder and his associates, Halder misappropriated loans of Tk 10,200 crore from the NBFIs and laundered the money to Canada, Singapore and India, according to the investigators.
Sources in Bangladesh Bank also confirmed the matter to The Daily Star.
They said Halder, who is now in Canada, embezzled Tk 2,500 crore from International Leasing and Financial Services Limited (ILFSL), Tk 2,200 crore from FAS Finance, Tk 3,000 crore from Peoples' Leasing and Tk 2,500 crore from Reliance Finance.
The allegation of embezzlement against Halder surfaced after the Anti-Corruption Commission launched an enquiry into the wealth of illegal casino owners last year.
On January 8 this year, the ACC filed a case against him for amassing property worth around Tk 274.91 crore from unknown sources.
The ACC and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) of BB are now looking into the matter.
The two agencies are trying to unearth how Halder and his men got the money out of the NBFIs.
Here are some snippets of information learnt from those linked to the investigation.
P&L International Ltd, owned by Halder, maintains an account with a bank. Investigators claimed to have traced suspicious transaction of over Tk 708 crore through that account.
In order to hoodwink any future investigation, the suspected fraudster used to move his money among multiple financial institutions and accounts.
PK Halder was a deputy managing director of Industrial and Infrastructure Development Finance Company Limited (IIDFC) in 2008. He joined Reliance Finance as its managing director the next year. He became the managing director of NRB Global Bank in July 2015.
Pointing to a Tk 60 crore loan to MTB Marine Ltd sanctioned at a board meeting of ILFSL on January 30, 2017, ACC sources said the money never reached the company's bank account.
It was rather transferred to accounts of different organisations and different people.
About Tk 5.5 crore was transferred to the accounts of Padma Weaving Ltd, Tk 14 crore to Paramount Agro, Tk 3 crore to Ookayama Limited, Tk 1.08 crore to Tasmiha Book Binding, Tk 11 crore to JK Trade International and Tk 4 crore to four personal accounts.
The transfer took place between February and July 2017, said ACC sources.
Swapan Kumar Mistri was ILFSL's director while his wife was MTB Marine's chairman. Swapan was also a director of HAL International, owned by PK Halder.
Swapan's brother Uttam Kumar Mistri is the managing director of Kolasin Limited. Uttam's wife Atoshi Mridha was the chairman of Kolasin, situated in Free School Street in the capital.
Together, they applied for a loan of Tk 79.7 crore as working capital for Kolasin on August 29, 2016. The loan was approved on September 5 the same year.
"It was an organisation only on papers. Showing loan against Kolasin, the money was transferred to the accounts of different people and organisations," one ACC official said, wishing not to be named.
Of the loan money, on December 27, 2016, about Tk 25.97 crore was issued to Nature Enterprise. The money was later transferred to Reliance Finance.
Nature Enterprise was one of the shareholders of ILFSL and two of its directors were board members of the NBFI, ACC sources said.
The money was used to adjust a loan for Nature Enterprise with Reliance Finance.
About Tk 17.4 crore was transferred to EBL Securities Ltd, Tk 6 crore to International Leasing Securities and International Leasing Capital, Tk 6.25 crore to Paramount Spinning Ltd and Paramount Holding Ltd, Tk 4 crore was transferred to JK Trader's account while about Tk 4.9 crore landed in two personal accounts, said investigation sources.
About Tk 50 lakh was transferred to Hal International's account at Bank Asia's Dhanmondi branch.
The ILFSL sanctioned loans of about Tk 83.34 crore to Moon Enterprise, owned by Shangkha Bepari, believed to be an associate of Halder.
Of the money, Tk 21.24 crore was used to adjust loan of Marco Traders with Reliance Finance. Director of ILFSL Nowsher-ul Islam is owner of Marco Traders.
Again, on March 29, 2016, about Tk 3 crore was transferred to PK Halder's personal bank account.
Hal International received Tk 6 crore while Tk 12.6 crore was transferred to Paramount Spinning Ltd's accounts with Mercantile and Meghna and NRB Global Bank Ltd.
Sources said between 2015 and 2019, PK Halder's cousin Amitav Adhikari was the director of People's Leasing and Financial Services and former colleague Uzzal Kumar Nandi was its chairman.
Amitav is also the managing director of Anan Chemicals. Its current director and chairman is Uzzal and his wife Anita Kar is its director. Although they were at the helm of the organisation, PK Halder was its actual owner, ACC officials said.
ACC sources said that using "name-only" organisations, PK Halder took money from ILFSL and became chairman and director of Peoples' Leasing. Later, he took money from Peoples' Leasing and dragged it down.
Earlier this month, PK Halder said he would come back to the country to return the money and settle the transactions and liabilities with the company if he gets "proper security for his life".
He has recently sent a letter to the ILFSL to this end.
The board of directors of ILFSL discussed the letter at its meeting. The organisation placed it along with an application before the High Court on September 7 through its lawyer Mahfuzur Rahman Milon for necessary orders.
After examining the letter and application, the HC yesterday directed the ILFSL to inform it when PK Halder would return to Bangladesh for settling his transactions and liabilities with the company.
The court said it would pass necessary orders for ensuring legal security of Halder's life on his return to the country and if he specifies his time of visit.
PK Halder will remain in the custody of the court after he returns, the HC bench said.
Board of directors, chairman and managing director of ILFS were also responsible for the scam, found an ACC enquiry.
In another development, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) has recently frozen accounts of 83 people and organisations with different banks over suspicious transactions.
(This article was first published in The Daily Star on September 27, 2020)