BASIC loan scam and ACC probe

Dhaka,  Wed,  20 September 2017
Published : 10 Aug 2017, 21:09:01

BASIC loan scam and ACC probe

Political patronage extended to people involved in financial crimes has turned out to be a serious problem. It is hurting the economy in general and banking industry in particular, writes Shamsul Huq Zahid
It is nothing unusual that the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) would investigate cases of corruption allegations and prepare charge-sheets accordingly. The ACC has also done the same job recently in five out of 56 cases instituted by it involving the much-publicised BASIC Bank loan scams. 

But what has come as a surprise to many is non-inclusion of the name of the immediate past chairman of the bank, who, allegedly, presided over the entire process of siphoning off funds worth billions of taka, in the charge-sheets. 

The people are by now fully aware that the man in question enjoys the blessings of the very powerful political quarters. That is why his name was deliberately dropped in police investigation. But repeated assertions by Mr. Muhith about the involvement of the past chairman in irregularities, financial or otherwise, of serious nature offered a glimmer of hope that the government would not  let the latter go scot-free. 

The finance minister even told the national parliament that the immediate past chairman of the BASIC Bank had been involved in the loan scam. So, it was expected that the investigation would follow its natural course and all those involved in the biggest loan scam in the country's banking history would be brought to justice. 

The incumbent ACC members, soon after their takeover, had raised some hope about a positive change in the modus operandi of the Commission. The chairman in particular has been talking tough. Some actions did also follow. A number of bank officials have been put behind the bar for their alleged involvement in sanctioning and disbursement of loans in irregular manners. Such works deserve appreciation. But why should the ACC shy away from taking actions against powerful individuals committing the crime on even a bigger scale? 

The demonstration of undue leniency towards the plunderers of depositors' money in banks and other financial institutions has created an unstable situation in the financial sector. Almost everybody, having some political connections, is being able to get away with their crimes. 

Identified top defaulters do take recourse to all legal loopholes to be on the bank boards and secure even top positions in other financial institutions and trade bodies. Some tend to be very innovative to reschedule loans and become defaulters again.

Political patronage extended to people involved in financial crimes has turned out to be a serious problem. It is hurting the economy in general and banking industry in particular. 

The regulatory bodies operating in the financial sector, undoubtedly, are legally empowered to take tough actions against the financial offenders. But the actions usually concentrate more on small fries than on politically powerful biggies. In most cases, they, deliberately, overlook offences of the powerful quarters. 

That is how things have been going on in most areas of the country for long. The problem is not any regime-specific. But the situation has turned worse in almost all sectors. The verdict delivered by the Supreme Court on the 16th amendment of the constitution has, among others, referred to the current state of state institutions and their gradual decadence. However, there should be no reason to pin much hope on it. The people would discuss the verdict for some days and rival political camps try to take some advantage out of it. However, they will move on to some other new issues, political or otherwise.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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