PK Halder arrested in West Bengal
Prashanta Kumar Halder, who has been on the run from facing charges of money laundering since 2019, was arrested along with an associate in West Bengal yesterday.
The former managing director of NRB Global Bank, better known as PK Halder, was arrested by the Indian Directorate of Enforcement, which investigates money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws, said officials at Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata.
The arrests were made at the request of Bangladesh, our correspondent in New Delhi reports, quoting Bangladeshi officials.
In cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), PK Halder is accused of swindling multiple non-banking financial institutions out of more than Tk 2,500 crore.
The ACC will take measures to bring him back to the country as soon as possible, said its chairman Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah.
"We have an extradition agreement with India... We will bring him back," he told The Daily Star.
Contacted yesterday evening, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the government was yet to be formally informed of the arrests.
PK Halder's arrest is good news, he said, adding that bringing him back to the country won't be a problem.
Prior to the arrests, the Indian Directorate of Enforcement in a statement released on Friday, said PK Halder and other associate individuals were accused in a multi-million financial fraud in Bangladesh. They laundered thousands of crores of Bangladeshi Taka to India and other countries.
The directorate is carrying out search operations on different premises linked to Halder, Pritish Kumar Halder, Pranesh Kumar Halder and their associates across the state of West Bengal.
PK Halder has been posing himself as an Indian citizen named Shibshankar Halder after having managed to fraudulently obtain the government Ration Card, Indian Voter ID card, PAN and Aadhar card, said the statement.
There are similar allegations against PK Halder's associates, it added.
"The directorate ascertained that these Bangladesh nationals have also managed to float companies in India on the basis of fraudulently obtained identities and have even purchased immovable properties at various places including in the posh areas of the Metropolis Kolkata."
An officer of the directorate told our New Delhi correspondent: "The money taken by the accused was taken as loan from various banks by companies that only exist on paper. Realising that they had been cheated, the banks informed the financial intelligence unit of the Bangladesh police that subsequently approached the Indian government."
Halder's name came in discussions during the "anti-casino" drives in Bangladesh in 2019.
The financial institutions swindled by PK Halder between 2009 and 2019 are: People's Leasing and Financial Service (PLFS), International Leasing and Financial Service Limited, FAS Finance, and Reliance Finance.
PLFS is now in the process of liquidation while the rest are in bad shape.
An ACC investigator said the ACC will press charges against PK Halder in three cases soon.
So far, 34 cases have been filed against PK Halder and his cohorts. The authorities have frozen the bank accounts of 83 and seized properties worth around Tk 1,000 crore.
The Immigration Wing of the Special Branch of police in March informed the High Court that PK Halder fled the country by road through the Benapole land port at 3:38pm on October 23, 2019.
He left minutes before the travel ban against him and his accomplices reached the immigration police.