BASIC Bank Scam: ACC quizzes ex-chairman Bacchu

The Anti-Corruption Commission for the first time yesterday grilled former BASIC Bank chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu over the loan scams involving about Tk 4,500 crore.

Nine ACC officials, now probing 56 scam cases, interrogated him for about four hours from 10:45am at the commission’s Segunbagicha headquarters.

During the quizzing, Bacchu denied his involvement in the scam, said ACC sources.

Talking to reporters later, Bacchu said, “I have answered the ACC queries about the allegations which are being probed. I’ll further assist the commission, if necessary.”

About his alleged involvement in the loan scams, he said the allegations were yet to be proved to be true.

ACC directors AKM Zayed Hossain Khan and Syed Iqbal Hossain, who are supervising the investigation, declined to make any comment on the interrogation as the matter was still under investigation.

The ACC has so far grilled 10 people, including nine former directors of the state-run bank, on the loan scam.

Seeking anonymity, an ACC investigator said all the ex-directors made almost similar statements before the investigators. They blamed then managing director Fakhrul Islam for the irregularities.

“The former MD placed [loan] documents in the board meetings. We only signed those documents,” said the ACC official, quoting the former directors as saying.

Fakrul, accused in several scam cases, is now on the run.

Asked if they could avoid shouldering their responsibilities in the loan scam being part of the bank’s top decision-making body, neither Bacchu nor the former bank directors could answer “properly”, said the official.

The ACC was collecting more evidence and it would summon the former chairman and directors again, if necessary, he added.

According to a Bangladesh Bank enquiry, about Tk 4,500 crore was siphoned out of BASIC Bank between 2010 and 2013 when Bacchu chaired its board.

On July 14, 2014, the central bank sent a report on the scam to the ACC, detailing how people embezzled money from the bank through shell companies and dubious accounts.

The BB found that Bacchu illegally influenced all the activities of the bank, leaving the once-sound institution in a grave state.

The report, which contained the findings of an observer deployed at the BASIC Bank, outlined how the former chairman abused his power to play an active role in the loan scam.

The BB first inspected the bank’s Gulshan, Shantinagar and Dilkusha branches in 2012 and found evidence of serious anomalies in approving loans.

In 2015, the ACC had filed the 56 cases over the embezzlement of Tk 2,036 crore from BASIC Bank. The investigation into the siphoning off rest of the money was underway.

However, Bacchu was not made accused in any of the cases.

On November 23 this year, the ACC summoned the former chairman and the 10 ex-directors for interrogation.

Earlier on August 18, a three-member Supreme Court bench while holding hearing in two loan scam cases expressed discontent at the ACC for not naming Bacchu and the bank’s ex-board members.

“We don’t want the Anti-Corruption Commission to maintain any ‘pick and choose’ policy in implicating accused in such cases, as nobody is above the law. All the allegations must be investigated with importance,” said the court.

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