THE gap of half an hour between the departure of PK Halder, a former NBR Global Bank managing director, through the Benapole land port on October 23, 2019 and the serving of a notice of a ban on his travel abroad by the Anti-Corruption Commission appears to be a worrying entente between people of different agencies. The immigration police on Monday told the office of the attorney general, as is reported, that the department had received the notice half an hour after he had fled. Halder, who also holds a Canadian passport, is wanted in several financial scam cases filed by the commission in January 2020, months after he had fled. What, however, is intriguing is that all initiatives and legal procedures against Halder and his associates, who appear to be influential and ranking officials of various agencies, were initiated after he had left the country. A High Court bench has also rebuked the commission and the Bangladesh Bank for their failure to take early measures to look into the cases and scams.
The court, hearing the plea to wind up People’s Leasing and Financial Services, wherefrom Halder and his associates reportedly misappropriated a huge amount of money, had asked the commission and the central bank in June 2019, four months before Halder fled, to take action against him. The commission and the central bank failed to take early action, giving rise to not an altogether unfounded allegation of the connection of some officials of the commission and the central bank with the scams. The commission in January 2020, five months after Halder’s departure, informed the court that he had fled and began taking actions, with a case filed on January 8, 2020 against Halder on charges of amassing about Tk 275 crore in illegal wealth. The commission in this January froze Tk 1,057 crore from the accounts of 62 associates of PK Halder and filed five cases against 33 individuals of five organisations in connection with cases in which Halder is the prime accused. The High Court, meanwhile, imposed a travel ban on January 5, 2021 on 25 people, including Halder’s relations, a former central bank deputy director and others in connection with the cases.
The High Court earlier asked the commission to submit the list of its officers investigating PK Halder’s cases and the immigration police could now be asked to disclose the names of police officers on duty at the Benapole port on the day Halder left the country. The government must, therefore, step up its efforts to ensure that all who appear to have helped Halder flee are brought to justice. Ensuring justice in such financial scams is a must to save the financial sector from bleeding.
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