Former BASIC Bank chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu has once again pinned the blame on the bank's managing committee for the embezzlement of crores of taka from the scam-hit bank.
During a seven-hour interrogation by the Anti-Corruption Commission, he claimed that he was not involved in the scams that took place at the state-run bank when he was its chairman.
“He [Bacchu] kept saying that he had no involvement in the scams... he looked nervous during the interrogation,” said an official of the ACC that grilled Bacchu for the second time in connection with 57 cases filed over the embezzlement of Tk 2,044 crore from the BASIC Bank .
“We will continue quizzing him and look into all possible aspects,” said the official, seeking anonymity.
Around 9:30am yesterday, Bacchu appeared before the anti-graft watchdog. About 30 minutes later, two ACC officials began grilling him in 10 of the 57 cases.
As Bacchu “fell sick” around 2:00pm, ACC's medical officer attended him. About an hour later, he felt better and the officials resumed interrogation, ACC sources said.
When Bacchu came out of the interrogation cell around 5:00pm, journalists approached him. But he left the ACC premises without saying anything.
No ACC official briefed the media on yesterday's interrogation.
Earlier on Monday, the commission quizzed Bacchu for several hours. Later, he told journalists that the allegations against him were yet to be proved.
Yesterday, the ACC filed a case against three persons, including a former BASIC Bank official, for allegedly misappropriating Tk 7.58 crore. With this, the number of loan scam cases filed by the ACC now stands at 57.
According to Bangladesh Bank findings, around Tk 4,500 crore had been siphoned out of BASIC Bank between 2009 and 2012 when Bacchu headed the bank's board of directors.
On July 14, 2014, the BB gave the ACC a report on the scam, detailing how money was embezzled from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts.
The report said Bacchu illegally influenced all the activities of the state-owned lender, leaving the once-sound bank in a grave state.
The BB also narrated how the former chairman abused his power to play an active role in the loan scams.
However, Bacchu has not been made an accused in any of the 57 cases.
While hearing two loan scam cases on August 18, a Supreme Court bench expressed displeasure at the ACC for not naming Bacchu and the bank's ex-board members in the cases.
On November 24, the ACC summoned Bacchu and 10 ex-directors for interrogation for the first time, around four years after one of the biggest loan scams in the country's banking sector came into the spotlight.
The ACC filed a case against ex-deputy general manager and branch manager of BASIC Bank's Babubazar Branch Md Selim, chairman of Iqbal Food and Beverage Ltd Ataur Rahman and its managing director Saiful Islam for embezzling Tk 7.85 crore from the bank.
According to the case statement, Saiful opened an account with the bank on March 29, 2010, and applied for a loan at its Babubazar branch on April 15 the same year.
The loan proposal, signed by Selim, was sent to the bank's head office on May 11, 2010.
In its investigation, the ACC found that it is “nearly impossible” to evaluate a client in such a short period. The loan was sanctioned against properties which had already been either sold or mortgaged to a third party.
THREE GET BAIL
The High Court granted bail to three sacked officials of BASIC Bank in several loan scam cases filed by the ACC.
Ex-deputy managing director of the bank Fazlus Sobhan got bail in four cases, ex-general manager of its internal credit division Md Selim in two cases, and manager of its Gulshan branch Shipar Ahmed in two cases.
The accused, who are in prison now, cannot be released as they are shown arrested in other loan scam cases, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told this newspaper.
The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim granted them permanent bail after hearing separate petitions filed by the three accused.
During the hearing, the HC said it is apparent from the documents and evidence that a gang was involved in the BASIC Bank loan scams. And the bank's board cannot avoid its responsibility regarding the scams.
Khurshid said the HC granted bail to the three on the grounds that the ACC is making long delays in completing the investigation into the cases.
The commission will challenge the HC's bail orders at the Supreme Court, added the ACC lawyer.
Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud appeared for Fazlus Sobhan, Abdul Matin Khasru for Selim and Dr Shahdeen Malik for Shipar.