The order of the High Court bench of Justice Md. Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat regarding the bail of an accused in three separate cases over the loan scam and embezzlement at Basic Bank is, in fact, a stark warning to the he Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The top court usually orders the authorities concerned to complete investigation in a given time, but in this case the HC directed to take legal action against ACC, if the probe is not completed within three months.
Besides, the court also directed to file an affidavit through the registrar of the High Court after submitting the report. Former manager of BASIC Bank’s Shantinagar branch, Mohammad Ali Chowdhury, filed a petition to the High Court after failing to secure a bail at the lower court in separate cases over money embezzlement at state-owned BASIC Bank. The High Court issued a rule after preliminary hearing. The court said, “Investigation was supposed to be completed within 120 days as per the laws, but the ACC failed to complement the probe in the stipulated time. If investigation is not completed on time, much evidence of the cases get destroyed. There are instances of resignations in many countries if the probe agencies cannot complete investigations within the stipulated time, but there are no examples of resignations admitting the responsibility of failure here ins our country. Rather there are instances of harassing and sacking the officials carrying out investigation successfully.”
Another thing is the attitude of the government towards loan defaulters. Loan defaulters face ban on the use of credit cards in many countries; they cannot buy plane tickets to travel abroad. But loan defaulters show their power everywhere in our country; they face no trouble to take loans from banks despite being defaulters at other banks. There is no reason for bad loans to decrease in a society where loan defaulters are rewarded in various ways. Though policymakers of the government raise their voice against loan default, they take no effective measures. A common allegation against the ACC is that the agency only investigates the cases in which the government is interested, the remaining ones go into cold storage.
The ACC filed 56 cases on 21-23 November 2015 on allegation of Tk 45 billion being siphoned out of BASIC Bank. Mohammad Ali Chowdhury faces charges in 12 cases for misappropriating about Tk 4.25 billion. The court has said stern action must be taken against corruption and money laundering, but the question is who will bell the cat. According to a former ACC chairman, the agency has turned into a toothless tiger, which is why the corrupt get away easily.
It is difficult to say that how much the stark warning of court to the ACC will work. Previously, such warnings have been given many times. The ACC paid no heed. We hope the ACC will be active to avoid contempt of court and will open the doors to trial of the criminals by completing investigations in the stipulated time.