Abu Taher Bappa

Published:
2020-01-12 14:36:08 BdST

Couple embezzle Tk300cr from banks using fake savings certificates


FT ONLINE

He introduces himself as HMA Barik, but sometimes he is Badol Hawladar or Mostak Ahmed. He also has a passport under the name Abu Sayed Sumon.

Barik claims to be a big businessman, and uses an expensive car.

He has used multiple identities to prepare fake savings certificates, and then used those certificates to borrow large amounts of money from multiple banks for more than a decade, without any intention of paying them back.

Barik and his wife Murshida Afrin embezzled around Tk300 crore in the last 15 years from just AB Bank and Trust Bank.

The so-called businessman has built an extravagant nine-storey home in the Gulshan 2 area of Dhaka with the money he embezzled from banks. The home has a current market value of Tk100 crore.

Barik owns two more homes – a six-storey building in Uttara and a two-storey one in Uttarkhan. He also owns multiple flats, cars and plots under his own name and aliases. He was the proud owner of a reconditioned car showroom in the Paltan area.

The true nature of Barik's ill-gotten wealth came to light after the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probed four graft cases filed against him in Dhaka by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The commission filed the cases in 2004, 2011 and 2016, accusing him of embezzling crores of taka from banks by using fake savings certificates.

Law enforcers arrested Barik and his wife Murshida from Khalishpur area of Khulna on January 7 this year, on the charge of embezzling Tk8.65 crore by using fake certificates to get 21 bank loans.

The couple gave the CID a wealth of information regarding their illicit financial activities after being in remand for two days.

"The central bank's Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit has investigated the allegations against the couple and found evidence supporting the accusations against them," said a CID official on condition of anonymity.

During the probe, the CID also found the involvement of a 21-member syndicate led by an industrialist in connection with the scam.

Police refrained from divulging the suspects' identity for the sake of the ongoing investigations.

Additional Superintendent of Police (CID) Md Faruk Hossain said, "Several dishonest AB Bank officials have helped this racket take out large amounts of loans by using fake savings certificates.

"The AB Bank filed a case with Mohammadpur police station over the scam in 2004. Police arrested the then Dhanmondi branch manager Asirul Haque in connection with the case. Asirul passed away the same year due heart complications, following his release on bail after three months of imprisonment."

The CID official added that the bank's then credit officer Moinul Hossain was also arrested at the time.

Sources in the CID said that the kingpin of the racket made fake savings certificates in the names of syndicate members, and submitted them to banks for loans.

Several dishonest officials in those banks then provided clearance certificates after "scrutinising" documents, helping the culprits to get approval for loans. Those officials took large amounts of money from the racket in return for their cooperation.

After the members of the racket defaulted on the loans, the banks tried to track them down through using the names and addresses mentioned on the savings certificates. However, those banks soon realised that the certificates were fake and the culprits had embezzled the money.

According to sources concerned, an industrialist built the syndicate in 2000 after returning from the USA, and his second-in-command was AB Bank's then branch manager Asirul Haque. The syndicate has 21 members and three of them are top associates of the ringleader.

The leader of the racket has businesses in Dhaka, Gazipur and Khulna. He has also invested a large sum of money in the share market. He sent the money obtained from scamming banks abroad by hundi (illegal remittance) and then had the money funneled back to him through legal channels.

Using this method, he built up a multiple number of industries.

According to the first information report of an ACC graft case, Abu Sayed Sumon – son of Abdul Hamid Hawladar from Pirojpur district – embezzled Tk4.26 crore in four months of 2004 from Trust Bank's Dhanmondi branch under the name of Sumon Enterprise, using fake documents in a planned manner. Sumon then went into hiding.

The accused also embezzled different sums of money from a multiple number of banks by using fake savings certificates and fake FDRs.

Another document in a separate case shows that the accused opened a joint account with his wife Murshida at the Gulshan branch of Brac Bank. He then embezzled Tk1.82 crore from the bank after opening 7 FDRs under his name and 4 under his wife's name.

Documents from other cases against Barik shows a similar pattern, with crores of taka embezzled from banks in 2007 and 2014.

Responding to queries, AB Bank's Chief Financial Officer KM Mohiuddin said, "Those incidents occurred before I joined the bank. I have heard about the scam involving a taking out of loans through using fake savings certificates.

"Because of those allegations, the bank has stopped handing out loans against savings certificates."

Meanwhile, Trust Bank Managing Director Faruk Moinuddin said, "The savings certificates – which the Trust Bank gave out loans against – were real. Those loans were paid back in full."

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