Why don’t we just get rid of the central bank!
In a gross violation of its own rules – and not for the first time – the Bangladesh Bank (BB) has decided to allow an alleged money launderer, an alleged criminal, to reschedule defaulted loan of Tk 199 crore taken from Bangladesh Commerce Bank Ltd (BCBL) through forged documents. Furthermore, it gave permission to the bank that allowed this alleged money launderer, Shahjahan Bablu, to commit his alleged crime, to waive interest worth Tk 71 crore on the defaulted loan.
The BB's rules don't allow banks to reschedule any defaulted loans secured through forgery. And as per the investigations of several organisations, including the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), Shahjahan Bablu defrauded BCBL out of Tk 199 crore (plus interest) through fake export bills. In addition, BCBL opened letters of credit (LCs) through five foreign banks that didn't have licences from the central banks of the host countries as of 2019 when the investigations were carried out. In fact, these banks are globally known as shell banks and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering body, strictly prohibits any transactions with such entities.
The fact that BCBL went along with this raises a very serious question: Are those who approved the loan at BCBL just incompetent when it comes banking norms, or were they in on it? And why did BCBL in November last year reschedule the defaulted loan and waive interest on it instead of pursuing legal action against the swindler as per law, that too, without informing the central bank – which later discovered the anomaly during an inspection. Does that not show criminal intent on part of BCBL? And why did BCBL suspend three of its high officials over their alleged involvement in the scam, only to withdraw their suspension? Were they found innocent through an investigation? Shouldn't the regulators be investigating them?
All these irregularities are happening because Bangladesh's financial sector has no regulations anymore. Even though the BB initially had taken a strong stance against the scam – rejecting BCBL's plea to reschedule the defaulted loan – it later backtracked after facing immense pressure from influential quarters, according to bank sources. Who are these people that decide what the rules are whenever they want? And why don't we just appoint them in place of the BB – and save some public fund in the process – since they have already replaced it in reality?
We condemn the BB for cowering at the face of these "influential quarters" that openly support criminal activities. And for also failing to hold Shahjahan Bablu and those who were involved with him – directly or indirectly – in scamming depositors, whose funds it was in reality that BCBL gave to him. We are shocked by the blatant lawlessness that has gripped our financial sector, and worry that this will lead to a total breakdown of the financial system, the economy, and the country's legal system – if it hasn't already.