Financial Institutions Division (FID) has directed BASIC Bank to file a case against its former board of directors, including its former chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bachchu, for ignoring the two point order related to the purchase of a 51,500 square feet plot in Motijheel in April, 2010, an official said.
FID Deputy Secretary Motiar Rahman, under Finance Ministry, sent a letter last week to the managing director of BASIC Bank Khandaker Md Iqbal asking them to take the necessary measures in this regard.
Former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, Khondoker Ibrahim Khaled, is not too hopeful that a case will be filed against Bachchu.
He said FID had sent two letters – in an effort to file cases against Bachchu – in the past one year in connection to other offences, but their efforts went in vain.
In 2010, BASIC Bank signed an agreement with a person named Akramuzzaman to purchase a 51,500 square feet plot in Motijheel with of Tk81 crore.
The man bought the plot to construct a 15-storey building and agreed to give 12 of its floors to BASIC Bank. They also agreed to call the building “Zaman Basic Bank Tower.”
According to the bank policy guide, state-owned banks and financial institutions must take permission from the prime minister’s office in order to purchase land. They also need permission for building, expanding, repairing and maintenance work of old buildings; and expanding new buildings of state-owned banks and financial institutions.
If necessary, the current managing director will file a complaint to Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against the bank's former officials for not taking permission from the Prime Minister's Office before committing to such agreement.
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According to the sources from FID, Akramuzzaman was given Tk40 crore by BASIC Bank on the day of the contract. Later, the bank gave him Tk36 crore in instalments.
The construction of the building ended in 2013. Currently, the 22-storeyed building bears the inscription of its name “Zaman Basic Bank Tower.”
Even though the bank gave Akramuzzaman a total of Tk76 crore, it still did not get ownership of a single floor of the building.
Previously, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said an investigation by ACC officials found that Bachchu was involved in a loan scam of Tk2,200 crore.
Muhith said the involvement of the ex-chairman was revealed in the finance ministry’s probe report.
According to the sources, the ACC had previously said that they would interrogate Bachchu in connection with the incident.
In financial scams that took place between 2011 and 2013, three of the state-run banks — Sonali Bank, Janata Bank and BASIC Bank — had lost Tk12,000 crore.
In September 2015, the ACC filed 54 cases against 56 people, including bank officials.
In its inspection, Bangladesh Bank found irregularities in approving loans of around Tk4,425 crore in the four branches of Basic Bank between December 2009 and November 2012.
Majority of the loans were approved by the then chairman Bachchu against forged documents without proper scrutiny and collateral.
Besides, the bank gave loans to several companies and approved loans to clients soon after they had opened accounts. In several inspection reports, Bangladesh Bank mentioned Bachchu’s involvement in the loan scams.
Bachchu entered deep sea fishing business in 2011 after he was made chairman of the Bank.
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He reportedly spent around Tk150 crore on 11 deep-sea fishing trawlers in less than two years.
Ministry sources also said the members of the board of directors had admitted that there had been huge corruption. The government officials in the board were held responsible by the central bank for not informing authorities about the scams.
In July 2014, Bachchu resigned from the bank on Bangladesh Bank’s advice.
Bangladesh Bank then sent the scam case to the ACC for further investigation.
In June 2015, the finance minister for the first time raised the BASIC Bank issue in the budget session of the parliament.
After a meeting with BASIC Bank officials in 2016, the minister told reporters that the loan scam was no less than robbery.
He said: “Big embezzlement took place in BASIC Bank. Its then Chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bachchu was behind it.”
“There was ample evidence of Bachchu’s wrongdoing, and it would be easy to take action against him,” he added.