The government is looking into the records of loans taken by Chittagong-based business conglomerate S Alam Group, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after two meetings on fiscal coordination and budget implementation with officials of several ministries and the Bangladesh Bank at the Ministry of Finance auditorium, the finance minister said: “I think S Alam Group has used the loans they took from banks to take over some of the privately owned banks. We are trying to find out how much debt they owe the banks.”
He further said he would submit the report of the findings to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to inform her of the latest developments.
He also stressed the importance of reviving Bangladesh Competition Commission, a regulatory body that monitors the conduct of business corporations to prevent monopolisation.
On November 2, Muhith sought a report on S Alam Group in the wake of its hostile takeover of the Social Islami Bank Ltd (SIBL) by acquiring the majority share of the bank.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Finance Division official told the Dhaka Tribune that Muhith issued the directive to the Bank and Financial Institutions Division only three days after S Alam Group took over the SIBL on October 30.
The directive was prompted by a petition for an investigation against S Alam Group that an individual sent to the Anti-Corruption Commission on November 1, which was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance, the official added.
The identity of the petitioner was not disclosed for the sake of investigation.
In his directive, Muhith also mentioned that S Alam Group has taken over several banks through ruthless means, which has to be stopped, the official further said.
On October 30, dramatic changes were made to the board and management of the SIBL that allowed S Alam Group to tighten its grip on the bank.