Sonali to ask Hallmark to refund half of the money in 15 daysStaff Correspondent
Sonali Bank will ask the Hallmark Group to refund in 15 days half of the Tk 2,668.38 crore they embezzled from one of its branches, the bank’s director Kashem Humayun, told journalists on Monday.
‘The board is not considering the amount of Tk 2,668.38 crore taken by Hallmark as loan rather the money has been embezzled. We have decided that the bank will send a letter to Hallmark asking it to pay back half of the amount in 15 days,’ he said adding that the letter would be sent today.
Kashem said that the decision was made after Hallmark managing director Tanvir Mahmud had ‘agreed’ during interrogation by the Anti-Corruption Commission on Sunday to refund the entire amount.
‘We have already recovered Tk 277 crore from the company and taken 46.5 acres of its land as mortgage,’ he said.
A Sonali Bank official said the board decided to take half of the money in cash in 15 days after Tanvir on Sunday told the media that he had 20 times the amount allegedly embezzled by his company.
Hallmark claimed that the mortgaged land was worth Tk 2,000 crore and proposed to offer another 13 acres of land as mortgage to repay 50 per cent of the amount, the official said.
Tanvir, however, denied his company had embezzled the money from Sonali Bank insisting that he had taken the amount in loan.
He said the loan was taken for investment in business and would be repaid as per the bank’s conditions.
The bank’s board meets at 4:00pm today to discuss further the issue of the recovery of the money and actions against the staff involved in the credit scam.
The ACC on Sunday questioned Hallmark’s chairman Jesmin Chowdhury.
Sonali Bank on August 30 suspended 17 of its officials for their alleged links to the financial forgery by Hallmark Group after the Bangladesh Bank asked the bank to suspend 31 of its officials.
The BB on August 28 requested the finance ministry to dissolve the board of Sonali Bank as it failed to ensure the safety of the depositors’ money.
An investigation by the Bangladesh Bank revealed that Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch had lent Hallmark Group and five other companies Tk 3,606.48 crore between 2010 and May this year on fake documents.
The businesses embezzled the whole amount that belongs to depositors, in collusion with some bank officials.
The BB investigation found that Hallmark Group alone had taken Tk 2,686.14 crore, T and Brothers Tk 609.69 crore, Paragon Group Tk 146.60 crore, Nakshi Knit Tk 66.36 crore, DN Sports Tk 33.25 crore and Khanjahan Ali Tk 4.96 crore from Sonali Bank.
On March 28 this year, Hallmark opened local letters of credit worth Tk 500 crore in favour of Anwara Spinning Mills, Max Spinning Mills and Star Spinning Mills to buy yarn. The three companies are also clients of the bank’s same branch.
After Hallmark’s guarantee to repay the LCs, the bank purchased the acceptance bills and disbursed the money to the accounts of the three spinning mills.
A few days later, the three mills asked the bank officers to transfer the money to the account of Hallmark Group and they responded positively. Later, Hallmark transferred the money to a current account of Century International, a concern of the group.
The probe found that the three spinning mills did not exist.
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