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Two arrested in US$31million bank fraud

Experts say swindle indicates widespread corruption

  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • October 9, 2012
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Two executives of Hall-Mark, a Dhaka based holding company, were arrested this week on charges of taking an illegal and fraudulent loan of over 2.6 billion taka (US$31 million) from the state bank.

Police arrested managing director Tanvir Mahmud and director general Tushar Ahmed on Sunday night at a hideout in Dhaka, where they had allegedly gone to ground after local media revealed the loan from Sonali Bank Limited had been acquired with forged documents.

The pair were allegedly planning to flee. They will be held for questioning for 29 days, the court stipulated today.

A complaint was filed against the Hall-Mark executives last week by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“The Hall-Mark loan scam shows a massive crack in the financial sector. It is an ominous sign for the whole economy and will turn into a disaster if such frauds are not tackled,” said Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank.

According to central bank regulations, the bank can not grant loans bigger than 1.2 billion taka, Ahmed said.

Many anti-corruption activists say without better efforts to ensure a corruption-free economy, the country’s future is shaky.

“Just arresting two is not enough for a million dollar bank loan swindle,” said Shafique-uz-Zaman, director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Dhaka University. “It not only proves the inefficiency of Bangladeshi officials but also their unlawful support of irregularities.”

The professor added that if the government fails to bring justice on financial corruption it will pay a heavy price in the 2013 elections.

In 2010 the country’s stock market experienced its biggest fall ever, driving around one million small and medium-sized investors out of the market.

A high level probe committee was formed amid a media outcry and investor protests, but its report was never made public.

At a press conference on Saturday, Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman said he is determined to drive anomalies out of the financial sector.

“No one involved in financial fraud will be spared,” the head of banking regulations said. “Anyone who makes a way for ‘thieves’ to steal public money consciously or unconsciously should be ousted from their post.”

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