BASIC Bank scam: Bachchu bought Tk 1.1b house with bribe money
Abdul Hye alias Bachchu bought a house worth Tk 1.10 billion when he was chairman of BASIC Bank. Bachchu disbursed huge amounts of loans on his own accord. He took a big cut of the loans as bribes.
Bachchu bought the house with the bribe money.
The house was bought in the names of Abdul Hye, his wife, son and daughter and brother. The house is on one and half bighas of land located at Shaheed Sarani of Dhaka Cantonment Bazar area. Best Holdings Group chairman and owner of Le Meridien Hotel, Dhaka, Amin Ahmed sold the house to him.
Bangladesh Bank investigated the source of money for such a big house and submitted a report to the Anti-Corruption Commission seven years ago. ACC confiscated properties of many people for corruption but did nothing about the properties of Abdul Hye. The court issued orders to open investigations and file a case against him. ACC passed several deadlines and now keeps silent.
Sheikh Abdul Hye and his brother Sheikh Shahriar alias Panna took a big amount of money from BASIC Bank clients who illegally took loans from the bank. Bank clients gave the money to buy the house, led by the two brothers.
Prothom Alo correspondent went to ACC chairman Iqbal Mahmud’s office on Tuesday to take his comments on the matter.
After hearing the matter, chairman’s personal secretary Fazlul Zahid Pavel as per instruction of chairman asked this correspondent to talk to director Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said, “The investigation of BASIC Bank case is not over. The issue of former BASIC Bank chairman’s properties did not come prominently. When the issue will come to ACC, it will take legal steps.”
This statement of ACC is nothing new. ACC makes such statements whenever the issue of Sheikh Abdul Hye comes up.
Earlier, several cases were filed over BASIC Bank. But Sheikh Abdul Hye was not named.
House registration records
In sequel to the Bangladesh Bank report, Prothom Alo correspondent collected records of registration of the house from the registration complex at Tejgaon in the capital.
It shows two records were made during the purchase. One record is of 18 katha of land. This record is made in the names of Sheikh Abdul Hye, his wife Sheikh Shirin Akhtar and brother Sheikh Shariar alias Panna.
Another record is of 12.25 katha of land. This record is made in the names of Sheikh Abdul Hye’s son Sheikh Sabid Hye and daughter Sheikh Rafa Hye.
According to the records, the cost of the entire house of one and half bighas of land is Tk 152.5 million. In the records, the cost of 18 katha of the house is shown Tk 90 million and the cost of 12.25 katha Tk 62.5 million.
In 1986, Sheikh Abdul Hye was elected a member of parliament from Bagerhat-2 constituency from Jatiya Party. Afterwards, he was not directly involved in politics.
The Awami League government appointed him as chairman of BASIC Bank for three years in September 2009.
Before a month of the end of his tenure in 2012, he made an agreement with Best Holdings Group chairman Amin Ahmed to buy the house.
The agreement is with Bangladesh Bank. The amount of land (30.30 katha) was shown a little bit more in the agreement than the records. The agreement made on 8 August 2012 has signatures of Abdul Hye, his wife, son, daughter and brother.
In the agreement, the cost of the house was mentioned Tk 1.10 billion. As per the agreement, Amin Ahmed was paid Tk 100 million.
The remaining Tk 1 billion was supposed to be paid by 30 August 2012.
As per the agreement, five persons were to be owners of the house. Sheikh Abdul Hye alias Bachcu will own 6.3 kathas of land, Sheikh Shahriar alias Panna 6 kathas, Sheikh Shiri Akhtar 2 kathas, Sheikh Sabid Hye alias Aunik 8 kathas and Sheikh Rafa Hye 8 kathas.
Amin Ahmed on 22 January told Prothom Alo that he had got the full amount as per the agreement and paid up bank debts with the money. He did not want to disclose anything more.
The registration of the house was supposed to be completed by 30 August 2012 but it was not. Abdul Hye was reappointed in his post in September that year before completion of his three years tenure. The deeds were done on 18 October, 2012, after he was reappointed.
According to the two records, 18 kathas of land were registered in the name of Abdul Hye and two others. The cost of these 18 kathas was shown Tk 90 million. Of this, Sheikh Abdul Hye owned 8 kathas while Sheikh Shahriar Panna and Sheikh Shirin 6 and 4 kathas respectively.
The remaining 6.25 kathas were registered with Sheikh Sabid and 6 kathas with Sheikh Rafa Hye, according to the other document.
In both the records, the address of the five persons is same, 2/2A, DOHS, Banani. Abdul Hye is owner of that house too. It was mentioned that son and daughter of Abdul Hye are students while three others are business persons.
Abdul Hye could not be reached for comment.
His brother Sheikh Shahriar on Tuesday told Prothom Alo that they bought the property at a price lesser than 1.10 billion.
He, however, did not disclose the price.
Sheikh Shahriar said they bought the property with their own money and funds collected from selling some flats.
Dubious financial dealings in housing companies
On November 2012, a team of Bangladesh Bank did an inspection on Basic Bank’s Shantinagar branch after registration of the land. The inspection report found evidence of serious irregularities and corruption. The report submitted on February 2013 found that the branch had disbursed abnormal amounts of loan one year and some of recipient companies only existed on paper.
The report further stated that the money borrowed from the bank has been transferred to the housing companies which have no business relationship with the borrowers. However, probes show that this is linked to the purchase of Abdul Hye’s house.
Among the companies that transferred money to the housing companies is BD Pipes and Power.
BD Pipes and Power paid Tk 27 million to Crown Properties from 3 to 30 April 2012 by eight pay orders. Crown Properties is owned by Sheikh Abdul Hye and Sheikh Shahriar Panna.
Bangladesh Bank’s comments in BD Pipes says, “The loan ceiling of the company increased to Tk 100 million to Tk 300 million within just two months.”
According to Basic Bank, the company is Tk 1.06 billion borrower from the bank.
Managing director of BD Pipes Rizal Islam on 26 January told Prothom Alo, “We brought an amount from Crown Properties which has already been paid. Nothing more than that.”
Another company named Akhwan Trade International gave Crown Properties Tk 13 million in April and May 2012. Five businessmen including some Sirajul Amin and Forkanul Amin own this company.
Another company named Basar Enterprise paid Tk 65 million to a housing company named Mitul Properties and Tk 37 million to Naila Properties between June and September of that year.
Another company named Jamuna Agro Chemicals gave Tk 5 million each to Mitul Properties and Crown Properties.
Former industry and commerce affairs secretary of Bagura Awami League Ainul Haque Sohel’s wife Vayla Selina owns Basar Enterprise. Their daughter Anindita Haque said she does not know anything about those matters as it all happened when her father was alive.
Former lawmaker of Jatiya Party Shawkat Chowdhury, his wife Mahbuba Khatun and daughter Iffat Afsana own Jamuna Agro Chemical. Shawkhat is one of the five top loan defaulters of Bangladesh Commerce Bank with Tk 1.16 billion loan.
Shawkat on 26 January told Prothom Alo, “Business is tough. It’s really difficult to get loan form banks so I had to bribe to get loans.”
Now deceased businessman Shamim Ahmed, his wife Lucky Ahmed and brother Omar Sharif were owners of Naila Properties. Lucky is also proprietor of Pan Pacific Filing Station and chairman of Lucky Jagaaran Foundation.
Attempts were made to call Lucky over phone 12 times in the last three months, but did not receive any calla. She also did not respond to messages sent to Messenger and to her mobile phone either.
Director of the company Omar Sharif said he is a nominal post holder and Lucky looks after everything of the company. Customers gave him money to buy the building, he said.
Customers too paid money to buy the home
The Bangladesh Bank report says BASIC Bank gave 10 establishments Tk 240 million in 40 pay orders. BM Computers, owned by Sheikh Shahriar alias Panna, was the biggest beneficiary of the scheme. The small Nahar Plaza shop has been closed for around four years. People at the nearby shops said it did not have products worth even Tk 500,000 when it was open.
The other two beneficiary companies are Amin Ahmed’s Best Holdings’ sister concerns Capital Banani One Limited and Best Holdings Limited.
Thirteen of those pay orders worth Tk 63 million went to BM Computers while Jamuna Agro Chemicals also deposited four pay orders worth Tk 22 million to their account.
In three more pay orders, Sonar Bangla Naturla paid them Tk 12.5 million, Malipur Flour Mills Tk 9.3 million in one single pay order and BD Pipes paid Tk 5 million in another pay order. This correspondent tried to reach the company’s managing director Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan over phone, but he did not reply despite repeated attempts.
Malipur Flour Mills owes the bank over Tk 230 million. Its proprietor Shahed Uddin Millat told Prothom Alo, “You have to bribe someone to get a loan. You can deduce the rest.”
BN Computers also took money from Aviat International, a concern of Akhwan group. Company sources say Shahriar promised to get them a loan of Tk 300 million. In the first phase, they got a loan of Tk 83 million approved by the bank’s Bashundhara branch. But BM Computers realised Tk 48 million from them, which is 16 per cent of the entire loan, as commission. However, Aviat International did not get any more loans from the bank. But bank documents show they owe the bank Tk 83 million.
The report adds: Bashar Enterprise deposited two pay orders of Tk 20 million to the account of Capital Banani One on 12 August in 2012. Two days later, Ali Construction deposited five pay orders of Tk 10 million each to the same account. On 10 October, Cox’s Developer Limited gave Capital Banani and Best Holdings Tk 10 million each.
Chairman of Ali Trade International Md Mahbubul Alam told Prothom Alo, “I am not aware of the transactions. The company belonged to Hamiduzzaman alias Bablu of Syed Group. Ahaduzzaman Baten and I bought the company later.” Hamiduzzaman is in Malaysia now.
On 29 and 30 August of the same year, Berb Holdings paid Tk 90 million to Best Holdings. Its director Ahkam Ullah told Prothom Alo, “Tk 210 million was deposited at the Gulshan branch of BASIC Bank to buy a piece of land. Branch manager Mohammad Ali may use the funds to make the pay orders. I have no ties
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman told Prothom Alo, “Sheikh Abdul Hye alias Bachchu ruined the bank and everyone knows that. If he can buy a house worth over Tk 1 billion we can ask where did he get the money. And why did the bank’s customers give the seller the money? The ACC can find answers to both the questions, but the most important question is if they are willing to do that?”
State-owned BASIC Bank made profits of Tk 540 million in 2008 while it incurred a net loss of Tk 7.56 billion in 2019. Bachchu, who was close to the government, was the chairman of the bank between 2009 and 2014. During the six years of his tenure, he destroyed the bank. BASIC Bank still bears the burden of his malpractice. Stakeholders do not think that the bank will recover any time soon. Steps have not been taken against the loan defaulters of the bank while the amount of recovery embezzled from the bank is very low. Abdul Hye remains out of reach.
Former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith blamed Abdul Hye Bachchu for the bank ‘robbery’. However, no steps have been taken against him.
Experts say the banking sector would never recover if the state does not punish the masterminds behind this scam.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam, Quamrul Hassan and Galib Ashraf.