FINANCIAL scams continue to hit the country’s banking sector. Latest in the series, as New Age reported on Tuesday, a total of Tk 701 crore have been disbursed by NRB Commercial Bank in violation of the rules and regulations since 2013. What is even more worrying is that a significant portion of the loans was disbursed to the bank’s own directors through fake documents. It was assumed that such practices were prevented through various amendments to the banking company act that was enacted to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of privately owned commercial banks. There have also been some other irregularities in the NRBC Bank. As the central bank inspections conducted between June and December in 2016, it found that the bank has committed fraud in producing documents about the presence of four directors, all non-resident Bangladeshis, in its board meetings. It showed that the directors were present at meetings held during 2013–16 when in actuality they were not in the country. They even falsified their signatures.
Earlier, in these columns we commented on the report of how the chairman of another private bank, Marcantile Bank, grabbed the NRBC Bank’s shares worth Tk 43.71 crore flouting the law concerned and how the bank sanctioned him Tk 301 crore in loans ignoring the single borrower exposure limit, a crucial rule for containing loan default problem in banks and other financial institutions. Overall, it would not be an overstatement to say that the private bank has become a sanctuary for swindlers of public money. It may be recalled here that when the incumbents approved the bank alongside some other banks mostly in partisan consideration, experts in general opposed the move, expressing fears that the newly established banks may be vulnerable to irregularities as the banking market has already become saturated in particular. It is also true that the government is yet to take exemplary punitive actions against many of those responsible for one scam after another that hit different state-owned and private banks, especially the much-talked-about Sonali-Hallmark scam and BASIC Bank scam involving thousands of crores of takas, in the past few years. Nor did it take any effective steps to recover the swindled money in the period. All this may have emboldened scammers to prey on the NRBC Bank as well.
It is expected that the ongoing central bank investigation of the NRBC bank scams and irregularities will end up finding out those responsible for the worrying situation in the bank, while law will be allowed to take its own course in dealing with the culprits. In fact, the government needs to immediately overhaul its existing policies regarding the banking sector to effectively address the woes that are seriously harmful for the national economy. Also, conscious sections of society need to raise sustained voice against the menace.