ACC presses charges against 25 Hallmark, Sonali officials

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The Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday submitted charge sheets in 11 cases against 25 people over the Hallmark-Sonali Bank scam, the country’s biggest ever banking fraud, to a magistrate court in Dhaka.
A seven-member investigation team of the commission submitted the long-awaited charges 20 days after its approval, the ACC deputy director Mir Joynul Abdin Shibly said.
The commission on September 16 approved the 11 charge sheets against the 25 people for embezzlement of Tk 1,568.39 crore from Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch by the Hallmark Group.
On October 4, 2012, the commission filed 11 cases against seven executives of Hallmark Group and 20 officials of Sonali Bank.
Six officials of the commission filed the cases with the Ramna police for their alleged involvement in swindling over Tk 1,568.39 crore out of about Tk 2,686 crore embezzled from the Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch.
The commission framed charges against 12 Hallmark Group executives and its associates, including its managing director Tanvir Mahmud, his wife Jesmin Islam, also chairman of the group, and general manager Tushar Ahmed, and 13 Sonali Bank senior officials, including its former managing director Humayun Kabir.
Other accused of the Hallmark Group are its sister concern Anwar Spinning Mills managing director Zahangir Alam, Century International Limited managing director Ziaur Rahman, Max Spinning Mills managing director Mir Zakaria, Apparel Enterprise managing director Shahidul Islam, Star Spinning Mills owner M Jahangir Alam, T and Brothers’
director Taslim Hasan, Paragon Group’s managing director Saiful Islam Raza, and Nakshi Knit and Composite Limited’s managing director Abdul Malek.
Charges were also framed against officials of Sonali Bank Ruposhi Bangla hotel branch, including former assistant general manager AKM Azizur Rahman, suspended assistant general manager Saiful Hasan, suspended executive officer Abdul Matin and senior executive officer Mehrunnisa Meri.
Officials of Sonali Bank head office against whom charges were framed are former managing director Humayun Kabir, deputy managing directors Mainul Haque and Atiqur Rahman, general managers (OSD) Nani Gopal Nath and Mir Mohidur Rahman, deputy general managers Sheikh Altaf Hossain and M Safiz Uddin Ahmed, and assistant general managers Kamrul Hossain Khan and Ejaz Ahmed.
The commission also framed charge against Tetuljhara union parishad chairman Jamal Uddin Sarkar as he issued the trade licences in the name of fake organisations of the Hallmark Group.
Sonali Bank deputy general manager (OSD) Bhagabati Majumder, assistant general manager Abul Hasan, Ruposhi Bangla branch’s former senior officer Wahiduzzaman, general manager ANM Mashrurul Huda Siraji of the bank’s head office, former general manager Sabita Siraz, deputy general manager Kaniz Fatema Chowdhury and assistant general managers M Khurshed Alam and Ashraf Ali Patwari were excluded from the cases.
During the investigation, the commission also interrogated the prime minister’s health affairs adviser Syed Modasser Ali along with 100 more people but finally the probe team did not find any involvement of Modasser in the scam, its official said.
About Modasser’s suspected involvement, ACC commissioner M Shahabuddin said, ‘It is true Modasser Ali has a social relation with Hallmark Group, but he was not involved in the scam.’
The ACC commissioner also said that the board of directors of Sonali Bank was not also involved in the scam. ‘If the embezzled money had been taken as loan, they [board of directors] would have known it, but since it was a case of forgery, they were not aware of it,’ Shahabuddin said.
About the probe report of a parliamentary sub-committee, he said that the committee had failed to mention specifically if Modasser Ali was involved.
‘We have reviewed the report but the parliamentary sub-committee failed to find his [Modasser Ali] involvement,’ he said.
On November 7, 2012, a parliamentary probe committee found that adviser Modasser had frequented the Sonali Bank branch at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, which was ‘quite unusual’.
It is quite unusual and unbecoming of an adviser holding the rank of a cabinet minister to visit a bank branch frequently, said the committee members.
The ACC, after receiving a letter from Bangladesh Bank on July 15, 2011 formed the six-member inquiry team headed by its deputy director Mir Joynal Abedin Shibly.
Hallmark managing director Tanvir was a petty grocer at Brahmanbaria, who committed the biggest fraud in the history of the country’s banking sector with the help of some bank officials in 2009-2011 through fake back-to-back letters of credit, ACC officials said.

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