Mercantile Bank chairman Shahidul Ahsan and NRB Commercial Bank colluded in huge irregularities like loan scam and illegal shareholding in ‘fake names’, according to a Bangladesh Bank investigation.
NRB Commercial Bank sanctioned Tk 301 crore to Ahsan violating the rules and regulations.
NRBC Bank violated the single borrower exposure limit to sanction the loans in favour of Ahsan’s business organisations as it approved 56 per cent credit limit amounting to Tk 301 crore against its capital of Tk 540 crore.
According to the bank company act, the outstanding amount of loan to a single person, counterparty or a group will not exceed 35 per cent of the capital of a bank at any point of time.
The central bank findings came from separate three inspections at Principal Branch and Uttara Branch in the capital Dhaka, and Chandraganj Branch in Noakhali of NRBC Bank. The central bank conducted the inspections in the last week of November.
Besides, NRBC Bank did not take adequate collateral securities from Ahsan against its sanctioned and disbursed loans, the BB investigation report said.
It said Ahsan also ‘illegally gripped’ NRBC Bank’s shares of its two sponsor directors — Kamrun Nahar Sakhi and ABM Abdul Mannan. The two directors hold shares of the bank worth Tk 43.71 crore.
Sakhi and Mannan have been staying abroad since 2009, but Ahsan opened ‘fake’ accounts with Gulshan Branch of Mercantile Bank in the names of the two persons.
Ahsan transferred huge amount of cash dividend against the shares of the two persons to his business group AG Agro Industries Ltd’s account in 2014 and 2015 violating the rules.
The BB report said that Ahsan was the real owner of the shares of Sakhi and Mannan and it was a punishable offence in line with the bank company act and the shares should be confiscated.
The NRBC Bank ‘illegally duplicated’ the signatures of Sakhi and Mannan and showed them as attendees of the board meetings so that they could play role in sanctioning loans in favour of Ahsan.
AKM Shafiqul Islam and Syed Golam Farouque were nominated as alternative directors of Sakhi and Mannan at the board of directors of the bank.
Shafiqul and Farouque are also directors and consultants of Ahsan Group owned by the Mercantile Bank chairman.
The board of NRBC Bank sanctioned Tk 119 crore on June 6, 2015 to Ahsan in presence of Shafiqul and Farouque.
Moreover, Ahsan attended the bank’s annual general meeting on April 18, 2016 as a proxy man of Sakhi.
According to the BB report, AG Agro Industries opened a current account with the Principal Branch of NRBC Bank on April 18, 2013.
The board of the bank sanctioned a credit limit of Tk 140 crore to the Ahsan’s business organisation on May 8, 2013 with mortgaging a land worth only Tk 3.91 crore.
The central bank asked the bank in December 2013 to decrease the credit limit considering the inadequate collateral securities.
The bank informed the BB that it decreased the limit to Tk 118 crore and Ahsan’s credit outstanding stood at Tk 20.88 crore on December 23, 2013.
But, the bank increased the Ahsan’s credit limit again to Tk 183 crore on May 3, 2016 violating the central bank’s directive when his overall credit limit stood at Tk 995.77 crore from other banks on the day.
The NRBC Bank’s document showed that it had taken collateral securities of Tk 60 crore, but the real mortgage amount was Tk 3.91 crore considering the value of the land.
Chandraganj Branch of NRBC Bank also sanctioned a credit limit of Tk 118 crore in favour of Begumganj Feed Mills Ltd owned by Ahsan resulting that the single borrower exposure limit crossed 56 per cent of the bank’s capital.
Violating the single borrower exposure limit was a punishable offence in line with the bank company act.
The disbursed loan to Ahsan apparently showed as regular but he repaid the instalments of the loans from other branches of the NRBC Bank.
Uttara Branch of NRBC Bank disbursed loans to one family of Aziz Chowdhury with his sons Salahuddin Chowdhury and Tareq Chowdhury, but a significant amount of the loans was transferred to the account of AG Agro Industries.
The same family took loans against its business organisation Stylish Garments and a remarkable amount of the loans was transferred to the account of AG Agro Industries.
The BB report suspected that Ahsan might keep his credit accounts as non-defaulted situation by creating loan accounts anonymously.
A BB official told New Age on Sunday that the central bank was now thinking to take actions against Ahsan as he controlled the NRBC Bank’s board behind the scene.
Ahsan declined to make any comment regarding the allegation although New Age made four attempts over the last one week.
When communicated with NRBC Bank’s management to take opinion about the fraudulent act, Ruhul Amin, head of public relation department of the bank, told New Age on Tuesday that the bank’s managing director Dewan Mujibur Rahman would not make any comment in this regard.
BB executive director and spokesperson Subhankar Saha told New Age that the central bank was still investigating the issue in details. So it would not be logical to make any comment under the circumstances, he added.
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