Prime Bank Ltd has realised Tk 260 million illegally from its accountholders in the name of service charge.
The private commercial bank has deducted Tk 230 – Tk 200 as account statement generation charge and Tk 30 as VAT – from every account under all types – savings, current and special notice deposit (SND).
Prime Bank has around 1.2 million accounts at its 117 branches and 15 SME branches.
Though the bank realised the charge, it is not included in the ‘schedule of charges’ published on its website.
Managers of several branches of the bank at Motijheel said on condition of anonymity that they were compelled to deduct the charges from the accounts at the instruction of the headquarters.
One manager said: “The head office order is like that ‘you will cut Tk 200 and VAT from every account. If any accountholder complaints, pay his money back.”
Prime Bank’s Agrabad Branch client Kamal Hossain lodged a complaint with the central bank for deduction such charge.
Hossain told bdnews24.com: “The bank hasn’t given me any statement. Even then (it) has cut Tk 200 from my account. It’s logical in no way. (We) will not get services, but the bank will cut money – why will it happen?”
The bank’s Motijheel Branch customer Imam Hossain filed a similar complaint with Bangladesh Bank.
Following many such complaints, the central bank conducted investigations into the branches in Dhaka and found those to be genuine. Later, it carried out similar probes into other branches and discovered same deduction.
Bangladesh Bank then warned the commercial bank against such rip-off and initiated moves to arrange payback and take legal actions following detailed investigations.
An official of the central bank said: “There is an instruction from Bangladesh Bank that (any) bank will give its accountholders two account statements for free a year – on a half-yearly basis.”
Wishing not to be named, the official said there are many complaints, including realisation of SMS charge and more-than-declared fees for ATM services, against Prime Bank.
Central bank Deputy Governor SK Sur Chowdhury told bdnews24.com: “If clients lodge any complaint against any bank, the relevant department of Bangladesh Bank takes necessary measures based on investigation. The same will happen if this (Prime) bank does something going beyond rules.”
The bdnews24.com correspondent contacted Prime Bank Managing Director Ehsan Khasru on the phone for comments about the complaints but hung up on the excuse that he was sick and busy.
Again when the correspondent called the bank’s Deputy Managing Director Anisul Kabir, his personal officer said he was ‘in an interview board’.