So-called cooperatives have long been cheating the public through various underhand means in Bangladesh. The latest news has been of 266 such ‘cooperative associations’ collecting Tk 4.68 billion from the people, with no sign of returning the funds. In fact, most of the offices of these associations have packed up and vanished into thin air.
The government department of cooperatives drew up a report about the fraudulent cooperatives that have disappeared from 2008 till present, but has done nothing to prevent such public exploitation. According to the law of the land, no institution other than banks can collect funds from the people in promise of profit. The cooperatives registered with the government can collect deposits of their members, but these spurious associations take in the deposits, luring the public with promises of huge profit, and then simply flee the scene. The people then have nothing to do but lament.
Such fraud has been carrying on for quite some time now. Previously two such associations, ICTL and Jubok, had cheated thousands of people, and the government failed to retrieve the money from these organisations. It is the responsibility of the department of cooperatives to constantly monitor these cooperatives and subject them to detailed scrutiny.
The question is whether the department monitors these cooperatives regularly. If they did, then these dubious deals would surface in the annual audit reports. There is doubt whether there is any regular inspection of these cooperatives. If this had been carried out, then the underhand activities would have been spotted by the inspectors. These fraudulent activities would not have been able to continue year after year. Not only has the department neglected their duties, but there are also suspicions of connivance. The department must be held accountable.
Public awareness is also essential. All the machinations of these spurious cooperatives will fall flat on the face if the public refuses to be lured by empty promises of exorbitant profit.