ACC seeks info from 40 banks over non-funded part

Ahammad Foyez | Published: 23:59, Feb 24,2021


The Anti-Corruption Commission has asked 40 local and overseas banks for necessary documents relating to the non-funded part of the much-talked-about Hallmark Group-Sonali Bank loan fraud involving about Tk 1,200 crore as there was no recovery of the loans in last seven years.

The commission sent notices to managing directors or chief executive officers of the banks on February 10, an ACC director general told New Age.

He said that initially the commission detected 37 banks involved in the scam and later it found names of three more banks.

The banks were asked to provide account opining documents with the Hallmark Group, copies of back to back letters of credit issued by the bank’s Hotel Sheraton branch, copies of the client’s application and documents submitted along with it, letter of acceptance and a photocopy of packing list.

The commission also sought copies of bill approval’s note sheet and site inspection report, the official said.

He said that it was the first move for collecting documents from the banks after the inquiry was resumed in June 2020.

Under the non-funded part of the loan, the banks issued facilities worth the amount to the Hallmark Group and its five sister-concerns upon acceptance of Sonali Bank’s back-to-back letters of credit, said ACC officers.

After a six-year suspension, the commission reconstituted the inquiry team in June to resume the inquiry making its director Mir Joynul Abedin Shibli as the leader of the eight-member committee.

In April 2014, the ACC stopped the investigation on a plea that a series of correspondence was taking place among the Bangladesh Bank, Sonali Bank and the ACC regarding the recovery of the loan.

ACC officers, however, said that the inquiry was put on hold for the second time after it restarted in February 2018 for some unknown reasons, said officials.

Initially, the ACC started the inquiry in 2012, following a complaint that Hallmark Group embezzled about Tk 3,700 crore from Sonali Bank’s Hotel Sheraton branch through forged documents.

Later, the commission split the inquiry in two parts: funded and non-funded part while the investigations of 38 cases relating to the funded part were completed in October 2013.

On October 7, 2013, the ACC submitted a charge sheet against 25 officers of Sonali Bank and Hallmark Group.

In 2012, the commission filed the cases against seven Hallmark officers, including its managing director Tanvir Mahamud and general manager Tushar Mahmud, and 20 Sonali Bank officials, including its former managing director Humayun Kabir, on charge of swindling about Tk 2,000 crore from the Sonali Bank’s branch.

Later, the ACC arrested Tanvir, Hallmark Group general manager Tusher Ahmed and its chairman and Tanvir’s wife Jesmin Islam.

Only Tanvir and Tusher are in judicial custody while Jesmin is on bail.

Sonali Bank’s former deputy general manager Azizur Rahman, accused in Hallmark scam cases, died in jail on August 25, 2014.

Charges were framed against the accused in 2015 and 2016.

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