ACC yet to sue Hall-Mark scammers

The Daily Star September 26, 2012

Sonali Bank has decided not to file any criminal case against the controversial Hall-Mark Group, which swindled Tk 2,686 crore out of the bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch using forged documents.

“Legal advisers have suggested that we don’t file any case, as the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the issue,” bank’s Managing Director Pradip Kumar Dutta told reporters yesterday.

Sonali won’t sue Hallmark scamsters

মামলা করবে দুদক, সোনালী ব্যাংক নয়

On September 10, the finance ministry in a letter asked Sonali Bank to sue the officials of the bank and Hall-Mark Group involved in the scam.

At the time, officials at the bank’s head office told The Daily Star that they had identified the “culprits” and would take action against them on arrival of Pradip Kumar from the UK, where he was attending a meeting.

But the bank at a meeting with a parliamentary probe committee yesterday decided not to file any case.

“We’ve complained to the Anti-Corruption Commission and it will take action against the Hall-Mark Group officials, including its chairman and managing director,” Pradip said.

Asked about recovering the money, he said: “We’re trying our best.

“Tanvir Mahmud [Hall-Mark managing director] has promised to pay back the loans.”

Pradip, however, did not say when the money would be recovered.

Md Tazul Islam, who is heading the four-member government probe committee, said his team visited the bank’s headquarters yesterday as part of the investigation.

“We’re not here to probe criminal charges. We’ll see internal control, risk management and accountability issue of the bank,” he said.

A Bangladesh Bank investigation found that the Ruposhi Bangla branch of Sonali Bank lent Hall-Mark Group and five other companies Tk 3,547 crore from 2010 till May this year.

Of the sum, all swindled using fake papers, Hall-Mark alone took Tk 2,686 crore.

Together with a section of the bank’s top management and branch officials, prime minister’s Health Adviser Modasser Ali’s name came up in the scam.

He is alleged to have helped Hall-Mark in embezzling the money, a charge he rejects.

“The investigation is going on and we cannot say who will be quizzed and who will not be quizzed,” Tazul Islam told The Daily Star.

The lawmaker, however, said AKM Azizur Rahman, an official of the Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla branch who has been suspended, confessed to have illegally disbursing loans to Hall-Mark.

Tazul declined to elaborate on the findings. His committee opened the probe on September 5.

Asked when the probe will conclude, he said, “It is hard to say when the investigation will end.”

Meanwhile, the ACC has served notices on the immediate past board of directors for questioning in connection with the scam, an ACC official said.

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