Prime Bank asked to return ill-gotten money

Central bank has ordered Prime Bank Ltd to return Tk 250 million – which the bank had realised illegally from its accountholders in the name of service charge – by June 16.

A letter in this regard was sent on Sunday to Prime Bank’s Managing Director Ehsan Khasru.

Bangladesh Bank in its letter ordered the erring bank to take disciplinary action against the officials involved in the ‘illegal activities’. It also asked to be notified of the actions taken against them.

The letter said such deduction from the accounts in name of statement generation charge without the prior permission of the account holders for the services they did not avail was against the interest of the depositors.

An official of the central bank, wishing not to be named, told “Our investigation on all Bangladesh Bank local offices found that Prime Bank deducted Tk 230 in the name of account statement generation charge from all types of savings account. This is completely illegal.”

Though the bank had realised the charge, it is not included in its ‘schedule of charges’ or Bangladesh Bank rules and regulations for the ‘charges and fees’. Even, Prime Bank did not send any statement to the accountholders after deducting the money.

“That’s why the bank has been ordered to return the total deducted amount to all accountholders within the next 15 days. It has been also ordered to take disciplinary actions against those officials who were involved in this,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Bank MD was incommunicado. He did not take the phone calls of the Correspondent.

The private commercial bank had deducted Tk 230 – Tk 200 as account statement generation charge and Tk 30 as VAT – from all types of accounts– savings, current and special notice deposit (SND), accountholders and bank officials said.

Prime Bank has around 1.2 million accounts at its 117 branches and 15 SME branches. By this estimate, over Tk 270 million was deducted from these accounts. It realised TK 250 million alone as statement generation charge.

The central bank also ordered to return Tk 575 – SMS charge Tk 500 and VAT Tk 75 – which was deducted from the accounts.

Investigation found out that these ‘charges’ were deducted online from Prime Bank’s head office. Bangladesh Bank had run the probe based on written complaints from the accountholders.

Managers of several branches of the bank at the capital’s business hub Motijheel said on condition of anonymity that they were compelled to deduct the charges at the instruction of the headquarters.

One of them said: “The head office ordered us to deduct Tk 200 and VAT from every account saying that the amount be returned in the event of any complain.”

Kamal Hossain, a client at Prime Bank’s Agrabad branch in Chittagong, had lodged a complaint with the central bank for deducting such charge.

Hossain had told “The bank hasn’t given me any statement though (it) has deducted Tk 200 from my account. There is no logic behind such deduction without providing any service.”

Bangladesh Bank officials said there was an instruction to all banks from the central bank to provide two account statements to the accountholders in a year for free on a half yearly basis.

The central bank has also taken initiatives to investigate whether any other banks were also making similar deduction.

Source: bd news24


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