Curious buying spree | The Daily Star
12:47 AM, September 04, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:52 AM, September 04, 2013

Curious buying spree

BASIC Bank chairman purchases deep-sea trawlers

Abdul Hye Bachchu Abdul Hye Bachchu

In Chittagong's deep-sea fishing business, an entrant has created quite a ripple. He has little business background other than being the government-appointed chairman of the now troubled BASIC Bank.
Sheikh Abdul Hye Bachchu is snapping up deep-sea trawlers just like hotcakes. Gossips are making the rounds that if you have a trawler to sell, he is a sure shot.
Bachchu has spent around Tk 150 crore on 11 deep-sea fishing trawlers in less than two years, The Daily Star has learnt talking to one of his employees and industry insiders.
His shopping spree is drawing curious comments from the industry people who are in the business for decades.
Bachchu entered the business in 2011, buying two vessels -- Crystal 1 and Crystal 2 -- from Morshed Murad Ibrahim, former president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Later, he bought Karnatori 1 from the wife of Amirul Haque, managing director of Premier Cement.
He next bought Silum Chai 29 from Gazi Belayet Hossain Mithu, Silver Sea 1 from SK Group, and Speed 1 and Speed 2 from Sarwar Jamal Nizam, a former BNP lawmaker from Chittagong. Each of these vessels cost at least Tk 10 crore, according to the industry insiders.
He then went on to buy four big vessels from Peninsula Group, for about Tk 18 crore each. Two of these vessels have already been taken over by Bachchu's Eden Fisheries Ltd., and are now engaged in commercial fishing in the Bay of Bengal.
For the last two years, Bachchu has been the most talked-about person in the port city's deep-sea fishing trawler industry.
“He [Bachchu] has bought almost all the vessels that were sold in the industry in the last two years,” said a Chittagong-based deep-sea trawling businessman, requesting anonymity.
Bachchu came to the spotlight this year when the central bank unearthed massive irregularities in loan disbursements, recoveries, non-performing loans, documentations, and mortgages against loans at the BASIC Bank.
The central bank has found the bank's board, which Bachchu chairs, had roles in sanctioning huge amount of loans.
According to its own documents, BASIC Bank disbursed Tk 5,669 crore in loans and advances in the three years till December 2012, a rise of 194 percent.
The bank's loans and advances were Tk 2,926 crore in 2009 when Bacchu became its chairman. The amount soared to Tk 8,595 crore in 2012.
The BB also found that BASIC Bank's Gulshan, Dilkusha and Shantinagar branches gave around Tk 3,500 crore in loans between April 2012 and March this year, a rare record in the country's banking history.
Many of these loans were given against false documents and without adequate collateral, according to the BB probe report.
Allegations are rife that many of the loans were granted to nonexistent companies in exchange of kickbacks which, according to some borrowers, were 10-12 percent of the total loan.
“He [Bachchu] has bought my vessel after he became rich in recent years,” said another businessman.
Eden Fisheries' Chittagong office at Sadarghat was found locked from inside when this correspondent went to visit last week. Later, The Daily Star reached one of the company's employees who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.
“Eden Fisheries has eight vessels now. We had three a year ago,” said the employee. He named Peninsula 1 & 2, Crystal 1 & 2, Silver Sea 1, Karnatori 1, Silum Chai 29 and Speed 2.
“Maybe there are more vessels rented to others. I heard that one Mr Selim [friend of Bachchu] has been given two vessels,” he said.
The Daily Star has been trying to reach Bachchu for over a month, only to hear from the bank employees most of the time that he is abroad. He has recently returned, but his cell phone is found switched off.
Last week, this correspondent contacted Maj (retd) Ruhul Alam, general manager of BASIC Bank, who first wanted to know on what topic The Daily Star wanted to talk to his chairman.
Informed, Ruhul said: “He [Bachchu] has declined to talk on the issue.”
On Sunday, The Daily Star faxed and emailed Bachchu at his BASIC Bank's fax number and email address, requesting his comment. But there was none till filing this report last night.

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