The trial of 38 cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against Hallmark – over the Sonali Bank loan scam of around Tk3,500 crore – is underway at snail's pace.
These cases remained pending in Dhaka Special Judge Court: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.
ACC lawyer Mahmud Hossain Jahangir told The Business Standard (TBS) that trials of almost all cases started between 2015 and 2016.
Earlier, in June 2018, the High Court ordered the trial courts to dispose of three of the cases within six months, but it was not done.
The testimony of the three much-talked-about cases is almost in its final stages. However, the lawyer did not say when the trial would come to an end.
Twenty-seven people – including the trio – were accused in 11 cases; while 35 people, including Tanvir and Jasmine, Hallmark plus Sonali Bank officials were also accused in the remaining 26 cases.
Hallmark Group Managing Director (MD) Tanvir Mahmood, his wife and Chairman of the company, Jasmine Islam, and General Manager (GM) Tushar Ahmed are, among others, in jail.
HC orders to dispose of 3 cases within 6 months
ACC chief counsel Khurshid Alam Khan told TBS that in 2018, Hallmark's Tanvir and Tushar sought bail from the High Court in three cases. Later, the HC fixed six months for disposing of those cases.
According to the report of the trial court sent to the High Court, it is taking more time to complete the trial as the cases are filed over a big loan scam.
According to court sources, 40 out of 108 witnesses have testified in a case filed over taking out a Tk526 crore loan in the name of Max Spinning Mills – which did not exist.
Twenty-nine out of 81 witnesses have testified in the embezzlement case filed over depositing Tk474.35 crore into the account of Anwara Spinning Mills, by transferring money through Inter-Branch Payment (IBP).
The 41st witness out of 61 has testified in the case – which was filed over Tk525.62 crore being deposited fraudulently into the account of Max Spinning Mills through IBP, with the collusion of bank officials, and embezzled by Hallmark's MD.
Lawyer Mahmud Hossain Jahangir said the trial of the three cases had been halted because regular court proceedings were suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. At present, the court has resumed recording the testimonies of witnesses.
He said apart from the three cases, the courts have recorded testimony of 15 out of 20 witnesses in each of eight cases. Testimony recordings are underway regularly in these cases.
The trials have also started in the remaining 27 cases and the courts have already recorded testimony of two out of four witnesses in each of the cases, he added.
Following the news of Hallmark's loan scam, published in 2012, the ACC filed the cases with the Ramna Police Station in the capital from November that year to 2014. The ACC has submitted chargesheets in all the cases.
Former law minister Barrister Shafiq Ahmed told TBS that bank loan scams will not decline, if trials in these cases are not completed quickly.
The perpetrators could be brought under exemplary punishment. If justice is delayed, it is difficult to get a fair judgment. Therefore, the people concerned should dispose of these cases as soon as possible, he added.