BASIC Bank scam: Where’s Abdul Hye

State owned BASIC Bank was known as a better performing bank once. Generally, an industries secretary used to be appointed as chairman of the bank but the practice was disrupted for the first time in 2009. The chairman was appointed from the private sector.

The Awami League government appointed Jatiya Party’s regional level leader Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu that was effective from 4 October in 2009. He was appointed for five years in two tenures. He resigned from the post on 5 July in 2014. By that time, the condition of the bank had deteriorated significantly.

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The amount of loans of the bank started soaring since Abdul Hye over responsibility as chairman. He started disbursing large amounts of money as loans violating the banking act, which resulted in a rise in defaulted loans to 68 per cent that used to remain below 5 per cent before he took charges. With a slight decrease, the amount of defaulted loans came down to 63 per cent of total disbursed loans in March this year.

Abdul Hye, however, did not limit himself only in disbursing loans. He recruited human resources too in the bank without any tests. In 2009, the bank had 776 staff which increased to over 2,000 in 2014. Many branches were opened to accommodate the recruited staff without any proper planning. The current number of staff in the bank is also over 2,000.

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Due to repeated chastisement by the court and experts and MPs from the treasury and opposition benches, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed cases against Abdul Hye Bacchu last year. He was made accused in all 58 charge sheets the ACC filed. The investigation of ACC revealed that over Tk 22.65 billion was embezzled and laundered from the bank in that five years. Abdul Hye Bacchu’s brother Sheikh Shahriar alias Panna is his associate in the corruption. Mobile phone numbers of both the brothers were found switched off Monday.

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The Bangladesh Bank, Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh (CAG) and the BASIC Bank reports revealed Abdu Hye Bacchu’s involvement in the loan scam.

Though the government assisted the bank with Tk 33 billion from the budget, the bank could not do better.

Former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith compared the embezzlement from BASIC Bank as robbery in and outside the parliament. In 2019, Dhaka South City Corporation mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said it was the Anti-Corruption Commission’s failure as it did not arrest Abdul Hye Bacchu after such a gigantic scam.

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Speaking to Prothom Alo, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan on Monday night said the court has taken into cognisance most of the cases. There are arrest warrants against Abdul Hye Bacchu and he is an absconder in the eyes of the law.

Prothom Alo could not know the whereabouts of Abdul Hye Bacchu despite searching through various sources.

Speaking about this, BASIC Bank’s immediate past managing director Anisur Rahman told Prothom Alo Monday night that he did not know anything about Abdul Hye Bacchu.

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While working as chairman of BASIC Bank, Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu bought a house situated on 1.5 bigha land at a cost of Tk 1.1 billion in Dhaka. He took a large amount of money as bribe from billions of taka he disbursed as loan to various people and anonymous entities and people. Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu used that money to buy the house in the name of his wife, son, daughter and brother, said the Bangladesh Bank.

Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu bought two industrial plots of 138 kathas at Bashundhara residential area in the capital when he was the chairman of BASIC Bank. The market price of the plots is Tk 2 billion. There is an injunction of the court so that he cannot sell the properties.

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Besides, within a year and two months of Abdul Hye’s assuming the chairmanship of BASIC Bank in 2009, his family business, Eden Fisheries, bought six ships and his brother Sheikh Shahriar alias Panna’s business, Crown Fisheries, bought two ships. The market price of the ships is around Tk 1 billion. He, however, has sold those.

Former professor of economics department at Chittagong University Muinul Islam thinks the government is trying to merge BASIC Bank with City Bank as Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu has destroyed the bank.

He told Prothom Alo, “Despite Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu’s many crimes the government has taken a very unsatisfactory role in this regard from the very beginning. Not arresting him is mysterious and unwarranted.”