Swindled depositors issue 15-day ultimatum

The Daily Star  January 19, 2021

PEOPLE’S LEASING

Star Business Report

Depositors of the People’s Leasing and Financial Services (PLFS) who were swindled staged demonstrations in the capital’s Motijheel yesterday demanding their money.

The Individual and Small Depositors’ Council of the non-banking financial institution (NBFI), a platform that has been staging agitations for more than a year, first formed a human chain.

The forum later brought out a procession in front of Bangladesh Bank and forwarded a memorandum to the governor.

The demonstrators threatened to stage a sit-in at the gates of the central bank headquarters if their demand was not met within the next 15 days.

As many as 6,000 depositors of the PLFS are now in dire straits because of the ongoing liquidation process of the NBFI, said Samia Binte Mahbub, joint convener of the platform.

“The executive directors have informed us that the central bank has taken initiatives to reconstruct the PLFS. And the depositors’ money will be returned on a priority basis soon after the reconstruction,” she said.

Individuals and businesses deposited Tk 2,036.22 crore with the NBFI. Of the deposits, a large amount had been plundered, according to a central bank report.

Prashanta Kumar Halder, a former managing director of Reliance Finance and NRB Global Bank, swindled more than Tk 3,500 crore from four NBFIs, including the PLFS. Some former directors of the NBFI were also involved.

Against this backdrop, the central bank applied to the High Court in 2019 to liquidate the NBFI. The court accepted the central bank’s plea and appointed a liquidator.

The problems of the PLFS began in 2013-14, when some of its directors made off with more than Tk 1,000 crore by way of submitting fake documents, according to a central bank inspection report.

As of May 2019, retail investors held 68 per cent of the NBFI’s stocks listed on Dhaka Stock Exchange and they stand to lose about Tk 193.52 crore while institutional investors Tk 25.75 crore if the liquidation goes through.

Some 15 banks and the NBFIs have Tk 850 crore stuck in the PLFS. The trading of the stock has been suspended since July last year.

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