Bangladesh arrests tycoon in country's biggest financial scam

Bangladesh arrests tycoon in country's biggest financial scam

 A Bangladeshi textile tycoon and his relative have been arrested for their alleged involvement in embezzling USD 192 million as bank loans in the country's biggest financial scam.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Tanvir Mahmud and his brother-in-law Tushar Ahmed in late night raids in the city's Mirpur area.

"We arrested Hall-Mark Group's managing director Tanvir Mahmud and the general manager of his company" Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) spokesperson said today.

The arrest came three days after the statutory Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said they found that USD 192 million was embezzled and the amount was pumped out from the country's largest state-run Sonali Bank in the past two years.

The ACC filed charges against 27 senior Sonali Bank officials and executives of Hall-Mark group for the embezzlement under the Money Laundering Prevention Act and the Corruption Prevention Act.

Media reports quoting officials privy to the investigation allege involvement of several influential government leaders and members of the board of directors of Sonali Bank in the scam.

A parliamentary standing committee earlier this week summoned Mahmud for interrogation where he confessed to have drawn loans through irregular means, but insisted it was taken for business purposes and would be paid back.

In a desperate bid to recover the amount, the bank also accepted more than 3515 decimals of land as fresh collateral following unearthing of the scam.

An audit firm in May this year reported that a branch of the bank had disbursed Taka 3,606 crore as loan to Hall-Mark Group and other entities without maintaining banking rules.

It alleged the top management of the bank, however, had remained "mysteriously silent for a year", although the signs of irregularities in the branch came to light through various internal inspections.

A subsequent Bangladesh Bank investigation also revealed massive irregularities by the bank in sanctioning and disbursing of loans, especially to Hall-Mark Group and others.

Sonali Bank, which has some 1,200 branches across the country has suspended 20 officials including two senior executives for their alleged role in the embezzlement.

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