The anti-graft body has appointed an inquiry officer, but he has been unable to collect documents or question people during the general holidays
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in mid-March decided to inquire about the Tk335 crore loan scam of the National Bank, but general holidays amid the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the investigation being put on pause.
ACC sources said the anti-graft body had started the process by deciding to investigate the scam and appointing an inquiry officer.
Pranab Kumar Bhattachariya, ACC director and spokesman, told the Business Standard that usually after appointment, an inquiry officer collects documents regarding the issue and then summons the alleged people for questioning.
"We acknowledged the allegations and appointed a team to probe the issue. But our office is closed due to general holidays and our officer could not collect any documents regarding the matter. As our office is going to open shortly, we will go for further legal proceedings regarding the allegations," he said.
On March 1, The Business Standard published a story titled "Tk335cr scam rattles National Bank" on the basis of a report by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) and by taking comments from the alleged perpetrators.
According to the BFIU report, it took Hasan Telecom merely a month to obtain a trade license, get a work order, and to get a Tk335 crore bank loan.
The bank did not even complete the mortgage procedure of the 190-decimal plot of land offered as collateral before releasing the money.
The extraordinarily brisk manner in which the loan was sanctioned was allegedly part of a ploy to embezzle the money in collusion with senior officials of the bank who were abusing their power.
The BFIU report, prepared in January 2020, claimed that a portion of the money has been distributed to several members of the bank's board of directors, and to some companies to which they are linked.
According to the report, the executive committee of the board of directors approved the loan without proper scrutiny.
The mortgaged land was bought from a company owned by the chairman of National Bank. But the survey company assessed the price of the mortgaged land at 42 times higher than the price at which it was bought, alleged the report.
According to the report of the Financial Intelligence Unit, over Tk60 crore were transferred to different bank accounts linked to members of the National Bank board of directors.
Of that money, Tk23.8 crore were allegedly deposited in the account of Rick Haque Sikder, a director of the bank, in two transactions, and Tk10 crore was deposited in the account of PowerPac – a company owned by National Bank chairman Zainul Haque Sikder and his two sons Rick Haque Sikder and Ron Haque Sikder.
Meanwhile, Tk20 crore was transferred to the account of Sikder Real Estate.
Another Tk10.28 crore was deposited in the bank account of Syed Qamrul Islam, owner of a company named Tectonics, who is also the CEO of PowerPac. The money was later transferred to the account of someone named SM Didarul Islam.
The Anti-Corruption Commission started investigating Hasan Telecom Chairman Arif Hasan in November last year. On November 18, the watchdog banned him from travelling abroad. Several of his bank accounts were also frozen.