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HC gets tough on ACC over BASIC Bank scam probe

Published : 29 Nov 2022 10:14 PM | Updated : 30 Nov 2022 01:48 PM

The High Court has directed the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to complete the investigation into the 56 cases related to the BASIC Bank’s Tk 35 billion loan scam and submit the report to the lower court concerned within the next three months ‘without failure’. 

The higher court also warned that legal action will be taken against the ACC if it fails to submit the report in the three months after receiving the verdict and order in the regard. 

The High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat issued the order in the verdict on Tuesday (November 20) after dismissing a bail petition of the bank’s official Mohammad Ali, who is accused in three cases.

The HC bench asked the ACC and state to explain why Mohammad Ali, former manager of BASIC Bank's Shantinagar branch, should not be granted bail in three corruption cases filed by the ACC. The HC, however, denied his bail.

The higher court said that there is no scope for taking the allegation of money laundering leniently.

Detail of the HC verdict could not be known as its written version has not been released yet.

Senior lawyer Advocate Md Khurshid Alam Khan appeared for the ACC while Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the state, and Advocate SM Abul Hossain and Advocate Zobaidur Rahman argued for accused petitioner Mohammad Ali.

The court stated in the rule that the investigation must be completed in the next three months without failure. The ACC will have to submit the report to the High Court through the Supreme Court registrar after completing the investigation. Legal action will be taken against the anti-graft watchdog if it fails to complete the investigation.

The commission has not faced such a situation before but the investigators have met deadlines in many cases, said ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan.

He also said, “The court did not specify the issue of 56 cases. We are assuming that an order has been given on the matter,” he said.

The court said much evidence will be destroyed if the investigation is not completed in the stipulated time. “This is people’s money, it can’t be used in other places except for the well-being of people and the country. It’s the bank’s responsibility to protect the money. The failure of a bank manager is not a silly thing here,” the court said in the rule.

On Monday, the HC bench expressed utter dismay at the incidents of embezzlement of huge amount of money from BASIC Bank and the ACC’s failure to submit charge sheet of any of the 56 cases filed over the bank's loan scams in the last seven years.

“Crores of taka has been embezzled. But no work is being done though the ACC and so many judges and lawyers are there. Why are they (ACC) silent? This is just like a drama. We are watching the drama. This is not acceptable,” said the HC bench.

The High Court issued three rules on different dates in 2020 and 2021.

According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, around Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of state-owned BASIC Bank between 2009 and 2013 when Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu chaired the board of the bank.

Between 2009 and 2012, the ACC investigated the allegation of Tk 35 billion in loan irregularities at the Gulshan, Dilkusha, Paltan and Shantinagar branches of the bank.

In September 2015, the ACC filed 56 cases against 156 people in connection with the swindling of about Tk 2,000 crore from the bank. The detainees are accused in most of these cases.

Of the accused, 26 were officials of the bank while the rest were associated with borrowing institutions and audit firms.

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