The Appellate Division yesterday came down heavily on the Bangladesh Bank for its failure to rein in the continued embezzlements in the country's banks and non-bank financial institutions.
The Appellate Division, warning the central bankers, made it known that they cannot sit idle and let the plunder go on.
"They will learn a lesson if one or two face harsh punishment. There is no alternative," said the Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain.
The apex court came up with these observations after a hearing on an appeal filed by International Leasing and Financial Services Limited (ILFSL), challenging the directives given by the High Court on January 21.
PK Halder, former chairman of ILFSL and former managing director of NRB Global Bank and Reliance Finance Ltd, fled the country after taking out around Tk3,500 crore in loans from different lenders. However, the central bank has been maintaining that Halder was involved in the embezzlement of Tk 1,569 crore.
"What was the central doing when a single individual embezzled Tk 3,500 crore?" the Appellate Division demanded to know.
The bench set Wednesday to announce its decision on whether the bank accounts and passports of ILFSL directors will remain seized.
Bangladesh Bank's former Deputy Governor Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled and the central bank Executive Director Md Shah Alam appeared before the Appellate Division and presented updates on ILFSL.
The High Court recently appointed Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled as independent director at ILFSL.
"Haldar and his associates took away nearly Tk1,596 crore from the leasing company. We are not finding any trace of where the money has gone," Ibrahim Khaled told the court.
He commented that not only the ILFSL, but also many non-bank financial institutions have embezzled the money of their clients.
The former BB deputy governor said, "The health of the government and private banks is not good owing to rampant looting. The financial institutions are in a bad condition."
He said that earlier People's Leasing and Financial Services was liquidated for its failure to pay back depositors' money. If ILFSL faces the same fate, the sector will be affected further, he noted.
Ibrahim Khaled informed the court that he has recently taken charge of ILFSL and it is too early to predict whether ILFSL could be saved.
Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Md Shah Alam claimed that he had informed the intelligence agencies and the Anti-Corruption Commission as soon as he came to know of the irregularities at the ILFSL.
He told the court that he believes Ibrahim Khaled will be able to revive the ILFSL if he gets the chance.
On February 16, the court summoned Ibrahim Khaled and the Bangladesh Bank official to brief it on the current situation in the banking system.
Earlier on January 21, the court appointed Ibrahim Khaled as an independent director and chairman to run the ILFSL.
On the same day, the court ordered the government to freeze the bank accounts and confiscate the passports of 20 people, including Haldar and his four relatives.
Bangladesh Bank lawyer Barrister Tanjib-Ul Alam presented the written statement of Shah Alam while lawyer Ahsanul Karim presented the statement of Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled.
HC orders law enforcers to arrest Bismillah kingpins
A High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam has ordered law enforcers to arrest Bismillah Group's Managing Director Khwaja Solaiman Anwar Chowdhury, Chairman Nowrin Habib and five others within a week for their involvement in laundering Tk15.33 crore.
The court asked the law enforcers to seek assistance from Interpol, if necessary, in arresting the fugitives. Additionally, the Inspector General of Police and Director General of RAB have been asked to submit a progress report before the court on April 5.
The HC bench issued the instructions after a hearing on a bail plea by Shoyeb Ul Kabir, a former official of Janata Bank found guilty in this case.
Earlier, on November 3, 2015, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed a money laundering case against them with the New Market police station.
Later, on September 10, 2018, Special Judge Court-10 in Dhaka sentenced Khwaja Solaiman, Nowrin and seven others 10 years' imprisonment for their involvement in money laundering.
Bismillah Towels Group embezzled around Tk1,100 crore from five local banks between June 2011 and July 2012, with its leading people fleeing the country.