Bangladesh: Tycoon arrested in biggest financial scam

A Bangladeshi tycoon has been arrested for his alleged involvement in embezzling USD 192 million as bank loans in the country`s biggest financial scam.

Last Updated: Oct 08, 2012, 20:29 PM IST

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi textile tycoon and his relative have been arrested for their alleged involvement in embezzling USD 192 million as bank loans in the country`s biggest financial scam.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Tanvir Mahmud and his brother-in-law Tushar Ahmed in late last night raids in the city`s Mirpur area.

"We arrested Hall-Mark Group`s managing director Tanvir Mahmud and the general manager of his company," a spokesman of the elite force said today.

Mahmud was produced before a magistrate court here, which remanded him to custody for 29 days.

Under the order, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was granted 24 days to interrogate Mahmud in three graft cases while police was allowed five days to quiz him for allegedly possessing an unlicenced pistol, which RAB said was seized when he was arrested.

The arrest came three days after the statutory ACC said they found that USD 192 million was embezzled and the amount was pumped out from the country`s largest state-run Sonali Bank in the past two years.

The ACC filed charges against 27 senior Sonali Bank officials and executives of Hall-Mark group for the embezzlement under the Money Laundering Prevention Act and the Corruption Prevention Act.

The ACC has termed the case as the "biggest banking plunder in the country`s history".

Media reports quoting officials privy to the investigation allege involvement of several influential government leaders and members of the board of directors of Sonali Bank in the scam.

A parliamentary standing committee earlier this week summoned Mahmud for interrogation where he confessed to have drawn loans through irregular means, but insisted it was taken for business purposes and would be paid back.

An audit firm in May this year reported that a branch of the bank had disbursed Taka 3,606 crore as loan to Hall-Mark Group and other entities without maintaining banking rules.

It alleged the top management of the bank, however, had remained "mysteriously silent for a year", although the signs of irregularities in the branch came to light through various internal inspections.

A subsequent Bangladesh Bank investigation also revealed massive irregularities by the bank in sanctioning and disbursing of loans, especially to Hall-Mark Group and others.

Sonali Bank, which has some 1,200 branches across the country has suspended 20 officials including two senior executives for their alleged role in the embezzlement.