It all started in 2004, when Chowdhury applied for a Tk 20 crore-loan from IPDC to purchase medical equipment
Imagine taking a loan to tide over a working capital plight and end up forfeiting the business entirely for the loan.
This is exactly the situation Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Brighton Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, finds himself in as a result of taking a loan from IPDC Finance, a non-bank financial institution, and Shahjalal Islami Bank, a Shariah-based lender.
It all started in 2004, when Chowdhury applied for a Tk 20 crore-loan from IPDC to purchase medical equipment. The 39-year-old NBFI provided Tk 9 crore and managed another Tk 8 crore from Shahjalal Islami Bank.
Brighton Hospital, which was established in 2004 in the capital’s Hatirpool, mortgaged assets worth Tk 60 crore against the loan but the lenders did not disburse the promised amount, Chowdhury told Dhaka Tribune last week.
Because the NBFI did not provide the full sum sought and also did not release the funds on time, the loan did not help Chowdhury’s cause, according to a central bank probe report.
Subsequently, the Brighton Hospital plunged into a financial abyss.
“We faced various problems in running the hospital as the lenders did not disburse the funds on time,” Chowdhury said.
To compound matters, IPDC was breathing down its neck for the delinquent charge (imposed interest on interest) on the loan, according to the probe report, which Dhaka Tribune has a copy of.
Besides, the Dhanmondi branch of Shahjalal Islami Bank did not take the company’s KYC (know your customer) details and transaction profile when opening its account, which is a violation of the Money Laundering Act.
Then the branch transferred the client’s loan account to the Karwan Bazar branch without the division of the actual amount of loan and profit.
“The branch transferred the loan account without legal opinion and application of the client,” the report said.
The branch indiscriminately imposed Tk 87 lakh additional interest on profits, which is a violation of the Shariah-compliant rules of the Islamic bank.
The bank did not provide any statement of the loan account to the borrower at the time of inspection, according to the report.
In 2009, IPDC filed cases against Brighton Hospital to recover the sum, when the total liability of the hospital with the NBFI was Tk 25.3 crore. Today, it stands at Tk 60 crore, according to the IPDC.
As of February 2012, Brighton Hospital’s liabilities with Shahjalal Islami Bank was about Tk 17.4 crore. At present, the amount is upwards of Tk 40 crore.
Aggrieved, Chowdhury in 2012 complained to the Bangladesh Bank, which promptly initiated a probe against the two financial institutions.
A probe report was filed but the central bank is yet to take any legal action.
Now, IPDC and Shahjalal Islami Bank are trying to grab 24,500 square feet of floor space that Brighton Hospital had mortgaged for the loan, according to Chowdhury.
The registered mortgage asset is worth upwards of Tk 30 crore, as per the bankers.
“Some influential groups in the board of Shahjalal Islami Bank are trying to grab my assets through the lenders for themselves. The two lenders have filed 33 cases against me and my father is now being threatened by them in various ways as he was the guarantor of the loans.”
IPDC and Shahjalal Islami Bank are now demanding two flats against the loans, according to Chowdhury, who has shuttered the hospital for a fund crisis.
Contacted, Mominul Islam, the MD of IPDC Finance, denied the allegations levelled against the NBFI by Chowdhury.
IPDC classified the loan as bad and then wrote it off in 2010, he said.
“The client did not repay a single penny in the last ten years. I had never dealt with such a bad customer like him in my career.”
The MD of Brighton Hospital complained to the BB, which the central bank investigated.
“But after the investigation, the BB did not say anything about the issue. That means the BB did not find any irregularity. We tried our best to help him but the evil client has filed cases against our five officials, including former managing directors.”
Islam says Brighton Hospital did not provide any security against the loans.
“We are still inviting the defaulter to just pay the real amount of loan -- we want to waive the interest of the loan.”
The correspondent tried to reach Shahjalal Islami Bank MD Muhammed Shahidul Islam over the phone about the issue but he did not respond.
The bank’s deputy MD, Md. Shahjahan Shiraj, did respond to the phone call but said he was not interested in talking about the issue.