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Troubled Agrani Bank has its second observer in six months

  • Published at 12:40 am December 13th, 2020
Agrani bank logo

Lila Rashid, who took over from Kazi Sayedur Rahman in June, steps down

Lila Rashid, the Bangladesh Bank-appointed observer at state-run Agrani Bank, has stepped down from the post on Tuesday citing personal reasons.

Her resignation was accepted by BB Governor Fazle Kabir on December 10. 

Md. Shafiqul Islam, another executive director of the BB like Rashid, has been appointed as the new observer to the bank, Md Serajul Islam, central bank’s spokesperson, told Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

However, a number of BB officials told Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity that Rashid, who was dispatched to the errant state-run lender on June 16, walked away over her differences with Agrani Chairman Zaid Bakht.

Bakht’s tenure as the chairman was extended for the third time on December 7 for another three years. A day later, Rashid turned in her resignation to Kabir.

Earlier on August 18, a day after the state bank’s board meeting, Rashid wrote to Kabir complaining that she was not allowed to perform her duties at the session of the Agrani board of directors for Bakht.

“I was interrupted while speaking and felt a sense of hostility in the board meetings,” Rashid said in her written complaint, which Dhaka Tribune has a copy of. 

Rashid said in her letter that she had noticed in various meetings that the chairman of the bank was often forcing his views by ignoring the opinions of other members of the board. 

At that meeting, there was a conflict between Rashid and Bakht over the approval of a loan, Dhaka Tribune has learnt after speaking with Agrani officials familiar with the matter.

Rashid’s written complaint elicited an investigation from the central bank, which found substance in her allegations. However, the BB is yet to take any action on the matter.

Contacted, Rashid, who had taken over from Kazi Sayedur Rahman, acknowledged that she was no longer an observer at Agrani Bank. 

Probed if the reason for her departure was her altercations with Bakht, Rashid declined to comment. “I left for personal reasons,” she added.

“Everyone on the board expresses their views, so there can be differences of opinion,” Bakht told Dhaka Tribune yesterday when asked about Rashid’s complaint in August.

Loan applications are always approved on the basis of everyone’s opinion, he said. 

“The Bangladesh Bank has not asked me anything about this,” Bakht added.

At the end of September, which is the latest available data from the BB, Agrani’s default loans stood at Tk 6,392.93 crore, which is 14.7 per cent of its total loans. It is the fourth-highest in the banking sector.

The bank faced a provisioning shortfall of Tk 1,086.7 crore and a capital shortfall of Tk 2,482.6 crore. 

Agrani’s capital adequacy ratio stood at 5.3 per cent at the end of September.

The central bank first appointed an observer at Agrani -- along with Sonali, Janata and Rupali -- in November 2015 after its key financial indicators such as capital adequacy and classified loans took a turn for the worst.

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