High Court vents anger at central bank and ACC at hearing on People’s Leasing loan scandals
The High Court has vented its anger at the Bangladesh Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the loan scandals of People's Leasing and Financial Services, terming central bank Executive Director Shah Alam a robber for his involvement in the scams.
"He is a thief, he is a robber," the bench of Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar said on Tuesday during the hearing on explanations of loans to defaulters.
At the same time, the court said the defaulters would be arrested and produced in court if they failed to comply with its summons.
On 21 January, the High Court summoned 280 defaulters of People's Leasing over loans amounting to Tk5 lakh or more.
They were asked to appear in court on 23 and 25 February to explain the repayment of the loans.
As per the order, 143 defaulters were scheduled to appear on Tuesday. But only 51 of them showed up.
Taking the matter into notice, the court said, "Those who did not appear today will be given another chance. If they still do not appear in court, they will be arrested and produced in court."
Expressing its irritation with the lawyers representing the defaulters, the court said it would not waste its time on them.
Lawyer Khan Mohammad Shamim Aziz represented the Bangladesh Bank while Mizbaur Rahman took part in the hearing in favour of People's Leasing. Mushtaq Ahmed was present to represent the defaulters.
The court said, "We are now trying to find out whether the laundered money can be recovered and keep the company functioning. Depositors are struggling every day. Who will take the responsibility for them? We are trying to recover money from the borrowers. A company has a procedure for liquidation. We are looking into that too. We are trying to find a way to recover the money."
The court said the High Court would not sit on what wrongdoings SK Sur Chowdhury and Prashanta Kumar Halder, who fled to Canada after embezzling more than Tk3,500 crore, did, "as if the court has no other work!"
"What action did the ACC take? We passed the order a long time ago, and in January it was reported that PK Halder had fled abroad," Justice Khurshid Alam further said, expressing displeasure with the lawyers of the Bangladesh Bank, the ACC and the defaulters.
The Bangladesh Bank announced the liquidation of People's Leasing on 10 July 2019 after the company had failed to return the money owed to depositors because of irregularities, corruption and embezzlement by its directors.
An organised clique led by PK Halder has destroyed multiple financial institutions such as People's Leasing and International Leasing.
Former central bank deputy governor SK Sur Chowdhury and executive director Shah Alam have been accused of collaborating with the defaulters.
In particular, these officials have been accused of hiding information on the embezzlement of thousands of crores of taka in exchange for bribes.
On 4 February, the Bangladesh Bank withdrew Shah Alam from the responsibility of monitoring two departments because of his alleged connection with PK Halder following the confessional statement of a close associate of alleged money launderer PK Halder. SK Sur Chowdhury also assisted PK Halder, according to the confessional statement.
On 23 January, a team of the Anti-Corruption Commission arrested Rashedul Haque, former managing director (MD) of International Leasing from Segunbagicha.
However, Shah Alam is still serving as executive director of a department of the central bank.
He is currently executive director of the Financial Stability Department, Deposit Insurance Department and Special Studies Cell of the central bank.
NBR seeks account info on Shah Alam, Sur Chowdhury
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has asked for bank accounts and other financial information on SK Sur Chowdhury, Shah Alam and their wives.
NBR's Central Intelligence Cell (CIC)has asked banks and non-banking financial institutes to provide the information within the next seven days.
At the same time, the revenue authority has asked for information on the bank accounts that were closed earlier.