Notorious scammer PK Halder remanded in India

He has been living in India posing as an Indian citizen by the name of Shibshankar Halder

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) branch under the Ministry of Finance of India has taken Prashanta Kumar Halder, also known as PK Halder, former managing director of NRB Global Bank and Reliance Finance Limited, into its custody for questioning.

An Indian court on Saturday sent PK Halder to ED custody till May 17, reports Bangla Tribune. 

The court issued the order following PK Halder’s arrest in Ashoknagar in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal.

On Saturday, six people were arrested in separate raids conducted by the officials of the ED in West Bengal.

PK Halder, former managing director of NRB Global Bank and Reliance Finance Limited, was believed to have fled to Canada after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh began an investigation into his illegal activities related to the casino business in 2019. However, he has reportedly been on the lam in India since March last year.

He was arrested in the course of raids by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) under the Ministry of Finance of India in 10 areas in West Bengal on Saturday. Two others arrested during the raids were identified as Pritish Kumar Halder and Pranesh Kumar Halder.

A top official of the ACC told Dhaka Tribune PK Halder had been arrested on the basis of information the commission had gleaned during its investigation and provided to Indian authorities.

The commission will disclose further details today, ACC Deputy Director Gulshan Anwar said.

However, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the authorities in Bangladesh still had not officially received confirmation on the arrest of fugitive PK Halder. Efforts to bring him back to the country would begin once there was confirmation of the arrest.

Interpol issued a red notice against PK Halder in January last year at the request of Bangladesh.

Forgery in India too

PK Halder, accused in multiple cases filed over misappropriation of money, was found hiding in a house in Ashoknagar in the North 24 Parganas province, according to Indian media.

"PK Halder has been posing as an Indian citizen by the name of Shibshankar Halder," the Directorate said in a statement.

He managed to obtain various government identities like ration card from West Bengal, Indian Voter ID card, Permanent Account Number and multi-purpose Aadhar card, the ED said in a statement.

PK Halder managed to float companies in India on the basis of fraudulent documents.

On Friday, ED officials conducted raids in various areas of Kolkata and North 24 Parganas in search of the properties owned by PK Haldar's personal lawyer Sukumar Mridha. 

According to sources, the law enforcers seized a lot of money from a house owned by Sukumar Mridha. 

ED sources said they would be able to ascertain the source of the money recovered and PK Halder’s involvement in it after investigation.

PK Halder had laundered about Tk80 crore to Canada and amassed about Tk426 crore beyond his known sources of income.

At least 34 corruption cases have so far been filed against PK Halder and his associates in Bangladesh.

On March 1 last year, he fled Bangladesh through Jessore's Benapole land port.

According to media reports PK Halder possessed two passports -- one Bangladeshi and the other Canadian -- but used his Bangladeshi passport to go to India.

Halder’s scams

PK Halder and his associates took loans amounting to Tk2,000 crore from the FAS Finance and ILFSL against these non-existent companies, but the amount was directly transferred to various financial institutions created by Halder.

He used layering procedures to conceal the source of the money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping tricks.

According to the ACC report, Halder took a loan of Tk45 crore in the name of Konica Enterprise, but Tk11.32 crore of the amount was transferred using three checks of Bangladesh Bank to repay the liability of non-existent companies Sandeep Corporations, SA Enterprise, Arabi Enterprise, Drinan Apparels Ltd, Varna, Amexo and P&L International Ltd.

Halder took the rest of the amount using the name of MTB Marine Ltd, another borrower of FAS Finance and Investment Ltd, using customer checks of One Bank Ltd, Mercantile Bank Ltd and Bank Asia Ltd.

Similarly, Tk35 crore was issued in the name of Moon enterprises, Tk38 crore for Messrs Bernarbi Enterprise and Tk40 crore for Anan Chemical Industries Ltd.

In addition, Tk174 crore was issued in the name of Newtech Enterprise Ltd, Nature Enterprise Ltd, Deya Shipping Ltd and MTB Marine Ltd. The four non-existent organizations took another Tk60 crore in loans later as well.

The ACC inquiry panel also found that Purnima Rani Haldar, wife of PK Halder’s associate Swapan Kumar Mistry, took a loan of Tk60 crore as working capital for MTB Marine Ltd, but the amount was transferred to several bank accounts and made-up institutes owned by PK Halder’s relatives and associates, including former Mercantile Bank Ltd director AKM Shaheed Reza.

Halder’s associates Kolasin Ltd Chairman Atish Mridha and his brother Uttam Kumar Mistri took Tk79.70 crore in loans while Songkho Bepari, owner of Moon Enterprise, took Tk83.34 crore.

Later, Halder’s cousin Amitav Adhikari transferred these amounts to different accounts of Sigma Capital Management Ltd, Hal International, Paramount Spinning Ltd, NRB Global Ltd and Bank Asia’s Dhanmondi branch.

Arthscope Ltd Chairman Mira Deuri and MD Prashant Deuri took Tk75 crore, while Neutral Ltd owners Swapan Kumar Mistry and Kazi Mumrez Mahmud took Tk80 crore loan from ILFSL.

Anan Chemical owner Amitabh Adhikari, Purnima Rani Haldar, Rajiv Som, Ratan Kumar Biswas, Omar Sharif took Tk71 crore from ILFSL as well as FAS Finance.

The sums were later transferred to another account created by PK Halder, the ACC said in its report.

The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) of the central bank said that about Tk2,200 crore from FAS Finance and Investment Ltd, Tk2,500 crore from Reliance Finance Ltd and about Tk3,000 crore from People's Leasing and Financial Services Ltd was embezzled and laundered using the names of non-existent institutions.

The BFIU said there was no mortgage against the loans, meaning there was no possibility of recovering them.

With the help of the BFIU, the government has so far frozen over Tk2,700 crore of Halder’s money, of which around Tk1,400 crore was with different bank accounts.