ACC must fast-track Basic Bank investigations
At a time when the country is going through a great economic crisis, requiring urgent action to reform the financial sector to make it sustainable, it is most unfortunate that the authorities are not doing enough to stop or discourage fraudulent activities in the banking sector. Take, for instance, the Basic Bank loan scams. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which is in charge of investigating the scams, has not been able to complete its investigations or submit charge sheets even after all these years. Equally worryingly, although as many as 56 cases were filed in this connection, the bank's former chairman, Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu, was not implicated in any of them.
Against this backdrop, the High Court has rightly reprimanded the ACC for the delay in completing investigations and for not implicating the bank's controversial former chairman.
According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, around Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of the bank between 2009 and 2013 when Bacchu chaired its board. On July 14, 2014, the central bank sent a report on the scam to the ACC with details on how people embezzled money from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts. It also found out that Bachchu illegally influenced all the activities of the bank. However, in 2015, when the ACC filed the 56 cases, Bacchu was mysteriously left out from case documents. Although he was quizzed several times by the graft watchdog, he was not named in any of the first information reports.
We cannot help but wonder what the ACC has done over the last seven years. Why couldn't it submit charge sheets in any of the cases? If investigations in such important cases take so long to complete, what signal does it send to the scammers and frauds? Also, if charge sheets in cases are not given on time, the accused may unnecessarily languish in jail without having to face justice. For example, although former Basic Bank general manager Mohammad Ali, who was accused in around 20 corruption cases involving Tk 600 crore, has been behind bars for a long time now, the ACC is yet to submit a charge sheet in any case.
To stop more such financial irregularities in our banking sector, it is vital that the state and the judiciary set strong examples of justice. Legal action for the scammers and their enablers is a must to safeguard our banking sector. Therefore, we appreciate the HC for questioning the ACC for its bad performance and for ordering it to submit a report on the latest situations of the cases. Investigations cannot drag on indefinitely. The ACC must do its job honestly and efficiently, so that no one involved with such scams can get away without having to face justice.