Recovering bad loans is top priority: new BASIC Bank chair

The Daily Star September 16, 2020

No stone would be left unturned to recover the Tk 7,689 crore default loans and people involved in the scams will be exposed, said the newly appointed chairman of BASIC Bank.

“These are public money and can’t be embezzled or swindled in this manner. Everyone responsible will be brought to book,” Prof Abul Hashem told The Daily Star yesterday.

On Monday, the Financial Institutions Division of the finance ministry sent a letter to BASIC Bank’s Managing Director Rafiqul Alam to take necessary steps to appoint Prof Hashem as the chairman of the lender for three years.

Prof Hashem has asked Alam to submit an assessment report so that he can have a look at the current business status of the bank.

“As the government has appointed me, I have full confidence that they will help me in turning the bank into a stable condition,” he said.

During his stint, about Tk 3,500 crore was swindled through irregularities and fraud.

The Anti-Corruption Commission has filed five dozen cases against those involved in the fraud.

An investigation report of the Bangladesh Bank uncovered the involvement of the board members, including Bachchu in the irregularities and fraud.

Alauddin A Majid, a former managing director of Basic Bank, took over as the chairman after the departure of Bachchu. Yet, he was not able to improve the condition of the lender in six years.

The bank incurred a loss of Tk 326 crore in 2019.

Prof Hashem, also the vice-chancellor of Anwer Khan Modern University, said it would take some time to put the bank in the right direction.

“I will increase the revenue of the bank and introduce cost-cutting measures.”

BASIC Bank’s 52 per cent of disbursed loans fell into default category. Prof Hashem plans to divide the default loans into two categories.

“Some will fall in a group whose businesses are really in a bad shape and as a result, they defaulted. They will be treated with flexibility.”

But those who deliberately took away public money through forged documents will be brought under the book, he said.

“They did not take the money by breaking vaults. Rather, some people from the bank helped them do so. They will also be held accountable.”

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