The state-run Sonali bank has found no bidder during an April auction to sell five corporate entities of the little-known Hallmark Group, while a new auction will be held for Hallmark Spinning Mills next month.
The five bids aimed to bag Tk340.24 crore for the bank while the new one will be auctioned at Tk125.23 crore, official sources said.
Sonali bank monthly progress report sent to the Financial Institutions Division on Recovery of Money from Hallmark Scam revealed the fact.
The auction for fund raising came years after the Hallmark sister concerns failed to repay loan obtained through forgery and also after decree issued by Artho Rin Adalat.
A source in the Financial Institutions Division said the state-run bank has already informed the division that it did not find any bidders for five scam-hit firms of Hallmark.
The bank can put bids for another two times, added the source.
An unholy nexus is working behind scene so that no bidders show up, added the source.
The Anti-Corruption Commission has started investigation into the Sonali Bank’s illegal lending of Tk3,547 crore to Hallmark Group and other companies, and those involved in the scam.
The amount embezzled by the six entities of Hallmark Group is equivalent to almost 15% of the total estimated cost of the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project.
Of Tk3,547 crore, Hallmark Group alone took away Tk2,686.14 crore.
The bidders have not shown any interest to buy the Hallmark sister concerns – Hallmark Accessories limited currently valued at Tk14.41 crore, Hallmark Style Limited Tk13.09 crore, Hallmark Packaging Limited Tk2.15 crore, Bobi Denim Composite limited Tk13.09 crore and Wall-mart fashion Limited 297.54 crore.
The two other Hallmark business entities that will also go for auctions are Hallmark Fashion Limited valued at Tk586.77 crore and Bobi Flatbed Printing Limited Tk16.93 crore.
Sonali Bank Chairman Md Ashraful Moqbul termed the progress of Hallmark case satisfactory.
Asked more about it, he said officials handling the cases will be able to tell more about it.
Prof Dr Toufic Ahmad Choudhury, director general of BIBM, said: “It is a good news that Hallmark properties have gone for auction against its big chunk of loan obtained through massive forgery from the country’s largest state-owned bank.”
A gang may have been working behind the scene, and so, the bank is not getting any bidder, nor might it get the price set for auctioned properties from future auctions, he added.
Former finance adviser to the past caretaker government, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, told the Dhaka Tribune an exemplary punishment needs to be meted out to those involved in the Sonali Bank scam.
It is better to make a sale during auction even if it is less in amount than not to ask for further bid, added Azizul.