A number of companies took loans from Farmers’ Bank, now renamed as Padma Bank, and part of those loans were skimmed off and used to purchase the City Medical College Hospital in Gazipur.
Former home minister and presently member of parliament, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, was the chairman of the bank at the time. He is also the owner of the City Medical College Hospital.
This hospital, located at the Chandana intersection in Gazipur, was bought for around Tk 250 million (Tk 25 crore). Of this, Tk 83,375,000 (Tk 8 crore 33 lakh 75 thousand) came from the accounts of three Farmers’ Bank borrowers.
These three companies with accounts at the bank’s Gulshan branch were Atlas Greenpac Limited, Creative Fashion and Ayesha Enterprise. Along with the principal amount and interest, they owe Farmers' Bank, now Padma Bank, over Tk 1.15 billion (Tk 115 crore). There is little likelihood of the loan being recovered.
In a similar manner, a portion of the loans was used to purchase deep sea fishing trawlers and cargo vessels. These, too, are owned by Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has found evidence that the former chairman of the bank’s audit committee, Mahbubul Huq Chisti alias Babul Chisti, has been involved in removing the clients’ loans. Chisti and some members of his family are presently behind bars for misappropriating around Tk 30 billion (Tk 3000 crore). Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir was the chairman of the bank then too, but he was not accused.
Hospital bought with others’ loans
Creative Fashion, client of former Farmers’ Bank Gulshan branch, took a loan of Tk 205 million (Tk 20 crore 50 lakh) from the bank. Of this loan, Tk 46.4 million (Tk 4 crore 64 lakh) went into the purchase of City Medical College Hospital. The cheques were signed by Creative Fashion’s proprietor MA Motaleb. He admitted to Prothom Alo about issuing the cash cheques.
The money was accepted on behalf of City Medical College Hospital by the hospital’s managing director Md Refayet Ullah Sharif. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir owns 90 per cent of City Medical College Hospital and the hospital’s managing director Md Refayet Ullah Sharif owns 10 per cent.
Manipulating depositors money in this manner is a serious financial crime. Criminal charges can be filed for this.... The bank has been ruined by such offences and those responsible for this must be brought to book.
Several attempts were made to contact Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir over the past week to ascertain these matters. Phone calls were made to him and on 22 August messages were sent to his official and personal e-mail addresses, asking for his comments. He has not responded.
Managing director of the hospital Refayet Ullah Sharif told Prothom Alo that he was not aware of money being transferred from the bank to City Medical College Hospital. When asked about taking money from the client’s loan account and signing a pay order for that money, the MD said, “That is not possible. I did not sign any pay order application.”
Prothom Alo, however, has evidence of this and the ACC investigations also mentioned the managing director’s involvement in transferring the funds.
The hospital was sold by SM Baduddoza. Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said that the hospital with its land and infrastructure had been sold under special circumstances. He has no idea from where and how the buyer got the funds.
Company in different names
When he was the home minister, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir got himself a deep sea fishing licence. Loans of Creative Fashion were used to purchase a fishing trawler and cargo vessel. The owner of Creative Fashion is retired engineer of the roads division, AKM Abdul Motaleb. He is from Kochua, Chandpur, the constituency of Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir MP. Motaleb is an Awami League leader of Kochua and is known to be a close associate of Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir.
When questioned in this regard, AKM Motaleb told Prothom Alo, “I was forcefully made a businessman. I had to start up a company and was given a Tk 205 million (Tk 20 crore 50 lakh) loan from Farmers’ Bank. Then Tk 125 million (Tk 12.50 crore) was taken from that for the purchase of City Medial College Hospital, the fishing boat and cargo vessel. In fact, Tk 35 million (Tk 3.5 crore) was even withdrawn without my signature. That is why I filed a case against Babul Chisti and others.”
Why did he not file any charges against Mohiuddin Kamal Alamgir who was the bank’s chairman then? He replied, “You understand. He is our leader.”
Skimming off more money
Packaging firm Atlas Greenpac took a loan of Tk 618.30 million (Tk 61 crore 83 lakh) from Farmers’ Bank. On 29 October 2015, two cheques totaling Tk 20 million (Tk 2 crore) were encashed from this loan account. Then a pay order was made out, signed by Mutasir Uddin Khan Yamin. Mutasir Uddin Khan Yamin is Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s nephew.
The main owner of the company, Syed Fazle Rabbi, died in 2017 in Canada. His wife, son and daughter live abroad. The factory building and assets have been taken over by another company, a creditor. That loan, along with interest, now totals Tk 830 million (Tk 83 crore).
Then again, Messrs Ayesha Enterprise took a Tk 20 million (Tk 2 crore) loan from Farmers’ Bank. Tk 16,975,000 (Tk 1 crore 69 lakh 75 thousand) cash cheque was issued from this loan account. This cheque was encashed and a pay order was made out on 28 July 2016 in the name of City Hospital.
Proprietor of Ayesha Enterprise, Jasimuddin, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, “I applied for the loan but I didn’t receive the money. A cheque was taken from me in advance when the loan was being approved. That cheque was used to withdraw the money unlawfully.”
He does not know what was done with that money. He was surprised to hear the money went to City Medical College Hospital because he had not been informed about the matter.
Meanwhile, this 500-bed hospital does not have the required approval. A mobile court of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) conducted a drive on the hospital on 10 August and slapped a Tk 750,000 fine on it.
Commenting on the overall matter to Prothom Alo, former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said, manipulating depositors money in this manner is a serious financial crime. Criminal charges can be filed for this.
There are records about the purpose for which a loan is taken and using the loan for any other purpose is a criminal offence. The bank has been ruined by such offences and those responsible for this must be brought to book.
* This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir