Farmers Bank Loan Scam: Ex-chief justice Sinha gets 11yrs

Convicted for money laundering, breach of trust

Former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha was the principal beneficiary of the illegal loans approved for him in violation of the Farmers Bank's credit policy, a Dhaka court observed in its verdict yesterday.

The court sentenced Sinha to seven years in prison for money laundering and another four years for breach of trust to be served concurrently.

Judge Shaikh Nazmul Alam of the Special Judge's Court-4 also sentenced eight others to jail terms of three to four years in a graft case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission against Sinha and 10 others. Seven of the accused were present at the packed courtroom.

Sinha, who is believed to be in the USA, was fined Tk 45 lakh, in default of which, he will have to serve an additional six months in jail.

The court asked the authorities concerned to confiscate Tk 78 lakh from a Dhaka Bank, now Padma Bank, account of Sinha's nephew Shankhajit Sinha in favour of the state. Justice Sinha deposited the money into Shankhajit's account.

The 182-page verdict mentioned that the five convicted former officials of Farmers Bank's Gulshan branch illegally and dishonestly forwarded the credit proposals to its head office for sanctioning two loans of Tk 2 crore each, violating the banking laws.

Violating the credit policy of the bank, the head office then illegally and dishonestly approved the loans that were disbursed in the account of the disgraced chief justice.

"The proceeds of loans are the proceeds of crime; resultantly, credit of the loan amount in the account of SK Sinha makes him the abettor and the prime beneficiary," the verdict observed.

Former Farmers Bank managing director AKM Shamim was sentenced to four years in prison and fined Tk 50,000, in default of which he would have to serve an additional six months.

The court sentenced the bank's former senior executive vice president Gazi Salauddin, first vice presidents Swapan Kumar Roy and Shafiuddin Askary Ahmed, vice president Lutful Haque and former chairman of the bank's audit committee Mahbubul Haque Chisty alias Babul Chisty to three years in prison.

Two other accused Ranjit Chandra Saha and his wife Santri Roy Simi were sentenced to three years in prison and fined Tk 10,000 each. Defaulting would mean an additional three months in jail.

Salauddin, Swapan, Shafiuddin and Lutful were each fined Tk 25,000 and Mahbubul was fined Tk 10,000. Defaulting would mean an additional three months in jail.

The verdict said Mahbubul influenced the bank officials concerned to sanction the loan.

Businessmen Md Shahjahan and Niranjan Chandra Saha were acquitted.

"In good faith, both Shahjahan and Niranjan signed some documents which were used in making loans in their names, but they were not the beneficiaries of the loans."

They were the victims of fraud by Ranjit, the court said.

Among the convicts, Shamim, Salahuddin, Swapan, Lutful, and Mahbubul are in jail while SK Sinha, Shafiuddin, Ranjit and Santri have been absconding.

The sentence of absconding convicts will take effect on or from the date of their arrest or surrender.

ACC lawyer Mir Ahmed Ali Salam said this was the first time in Bangladesh a former chief justice got convicted.

Lawyer Shahinur Islam who represented the accused said his clients would challenge the verdict in higher court.

A total of 21 prosecution witnesses gave their deposition before the court, Salam said.

In October 2018, the ACC said it found evidence of fraud involving transactions of Tk 4 crore borrowed with forged documents by two businessmen Shahjahan and Niranjan from the Farmers Bank. The money was deposited later to Justice Sinha's account.

On July 10, 2019, ACC Director Syed Iqbal Hossain filed the graft case with its Integrated District Office-1 of Dhaka.

On December 8 that year, ACC Director Benjir Ahammad pressed charges against Sinha and the 10 other accused. The court framed charges against them on August 13 last year.

Justice Sinha resigned as chief justice on November 11, 2017, from abroad.

Talking to reporters at his office, Law Minister Anisul Huq said, "I am not very happy. Because, he [SK Sinha] had been involved with the judiciary. He was the chief justice of the country. It [conviction] cannot be pleasant for me.

"It has been proved through the verdict that nobody is above the law. Those who hold constitutional or important public offices must be accountable for their activities. They must be careful and maintain transparency and accountability. I think that an example has been set though this verdict."


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