Some Sonali Bank officials in Lalmonirhat have allegedly embezzled a large amount of agricultural loan instalments from farmers.
A three-member probe body was formed yesterday, headed by the Senior Executive Officer of Sonali Bank’s principal office in Kurigram Mostafa Mandal, to look into the allegations.
The manager of the branch involved said the field level officials were behind the corruption.
The probe team has already begun investigating at the field level in Kulaghat, Mohendranagar and Khuniyagachh unions in Lalmonirhat sadar upazila, according to sources at the bank.
According to the bank, 3,500 farmers in the three unions have taken agricultural loans from Lalmonirhat Sonali Bank branch between 2002 and 2010. This year, 1,500 of these borrowers were declared defaulters. Sonali Bank Lalmonirhat branch served caution notices to the defaulters from February to April.
Most of the farmers said they were astonished when they got the bank notice, since they have already retrieved their mortgage documents from the bank, having repaid the loans. Some of the farmers submitted complaints on the matter to the Deputy General Manager of Sonali Bank principal office in Kurigram a week ago.
Farmer Aminul Islam, 60, of Dhairkhata village in Lalmonirhat sadar, said, “I took an agri-loan of Tk25,000 in 2002 and I finished paying my instalments in 2011.
“I have already taken away the mortgage document from the bank’s custody. But the bank declared me a defaulter and I was served a caution notice in February this year.” Aminul said.
The bank’s staff might have embezzled his instalments, he added.
Amzad Ali, 55, of the same village, said he had also finished repaying his loan but he was served a caution notice for defaulting in March.
“I have all the bank receipts for the instalments that I paid. I think the bank’s staff didn’t deposit the money in the ledger. I have submitted a written allegation to the bank authority,” he said.
A staff in the Sonali Bank Lalmonirhat branch said at least 400 farmers have been facing such difficulties.
Field workers of the bank receive the instalments from the farmers and they had embezzled the money in collusion with a dishonest bank cashier, the officer said, seeking anonymity.
Sonali Bank Lalmonirhat branch manager Sazidul Islam said, “The field workers of the bank are guilty for this corruption, as they didn’t deposit loan money to the bank ledger after collecting it from farmers.
“The probe team is investigating the matter and it will submit a report after a month. The higher authorities will take departmental action after getting the probe team report.”
The manager declined to disclose how much money had been embezzled this way.