This BASIC Bank board’s former chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu’s claim of Wednesday during his interrogation by the Anti-Corruption Commission that he signed the loan documents ‘in good faith’ does not sound tenable in view of the fact that there are rules that should have been strictly adhered to before approving any such loans. As such, there is no rationale behind the use of such words as ‘in good faith’ by him. Moreover, the sanctioning of loans requires strict adherence to certain rules and regulations that can act as a buttress to ensure that loans being sanctioned will be repaid by borrowers in time keeping to the rule. Bacchu, as New Age reported on Thursday, confessed that about Tk 4,500 crore in loans, approved by him, were misappropriated. As the interrogations were progressing, Bacchu also asked his interrogators not to ask him ‘too many questions’, saying that ‘too many questions could be embarrassing to me and you alike’. It needs to be pointed out that Bacchu, who happens to be a leader of the Jatiya Party, which is a partner in the Awami-League-led ruling coalition, is said to have enjoyed political backing. It has also been reported that BASIC Bank was well-known as a sound bank until this chairman took office.
It is known to everybody that Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank and BASIC Bank have become safe havens for rule violators as their boards illegally dictate the loan approval process and adopt malpractice and fact-tampering, ignoring the regulators. As such, it is not surprising at all that BASIC Bank was rocked by the scam of shady loans approved by its errant board and former chairman. According to the Bank and Financial Institutions Division report, the borrowers defaulted on 48 per cent of the loans, 80 per cent of which is bad loan. Such plundering of public money could take place for lack of efficiency and transparency in credit approval, credit administration and credit oversight, poor selection of borrowers, politically motivated lending and negligence in risk management. All these failures of the state-owned banks also squarely fall on the government, which sets up the bank boards, often with people of a partisan bias, to apportion favour among political cartels of the party in power. The situation in state-owned banks including BASIC Bank is so alarming that there is an urgent need to bring their chairmen and directors under a framework of agreement to ensure their accountability.
Regrettably, against this backdrop of such scams and fraudulent practices by these SoBs, the government’s tough talks against bank authorities giving loans and people who take them have become mere rhetoric. It is high time that the government and, for that matter the Anti-Corruption Commission, came out of this play of rhetoric and prosecuted and punished all the individuals responsible, including the former BASIC bank chairman. Unless the government acts accordingly, it will be deemed to be abetting such financial crimes.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial