DHAKA: The government is taking initiative to recover some Tk 4000 crore allegedly misappropriated from nine government banks under cover of debt waivers during the times of the past four-party coalition and the caretaker governments.
Competent sources said the huge amount of money was drained out in the name of debt and interest waivers through “abuse of government and political power” between 2001 and 2008.
They said loans and interests worth Tk 1000 crore from Sonali Bank, Tk 655 crore from Janata Bank, Tk 946 crore from Agrani Bank and Tk 478 crore from Rupali Bank were written off.
Besides, huge amounts of money from Krishi Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, Basic Bank and Bangladesh Development Bank were allegedly plundered in the name of debt relief, said the sources.
“Discussions in and outside the government are continuing on the task recovery of the money,” said one source.
Bank-insiders said the banks were compelled to exempt the defaulters from paying back the borrowed public money and interest thereof. And now that a new government is in power, the banks are under pressure for reclaiming the lost money.
The authorities concerned are learnt to be passing their days in worries as the government has ordered them to collect the money.
The bank authorities have already discussed the matter and found out that of the waivers, Tk 100 crore was of a relative of a minister of the four-party alliance government, Tk 12 crore of a senior leader and Tk 18 crore in the name of Dandy Dying.
The correspondent also tried to communicate with Humayun Kabir, Director of the Janata Bank, but failed.
Dr Abul Barakat, Chairman of Janata Bank, said, “Yes, this matter has come to my notice.”
He informed that Tk 400 crore was waived during the four-party alliance government and Tk 255 crore during the caretaker regime.
"I think loan and interest should not be waived this way," said the Economics professor.
Balaram Paddar, Director of the Janata Bank, alleged that a total of Tk 4,000 crore had been “looted” from the nine public banks.
"The banks have already started investigation to realize the money," he said.
Syed Abdul Hamid, Managing Director of Agrani Bank, said Tk 946 crore was exempted in the 2001-2008 period, but he could not say how the bungling was done.
Syed Abu Naser Bakhtiar, ex-MD of the same bank, said, "So far as I remember, no money was waived. Only interest was waived because no provision is there for write-off of the principal amount of loan."
Rupali Bank exempted Tk 478 crore during the times. This was done through “political considerations”, claimed the present CBA leaders.
M Farid Uddin, Managing Director of the Rupali, said huge loans were handed out randomly as well as debts and interests were waived. "We are investigating the matter," he said.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman said there are provisions for loan write-off. "But if anyone is exempted illegally, we will investigate the matter," he said.
The governor also said, "As I was not the governor of Bangladesh Bank during the regime of the four-party alliance government, I do not know what happened during the times of the then government."
BDST: 1925 HRS, AUGUST 24, 2010