POLITICAL APPOINTMENT AT SOES Pressure still on

BD bank

Staff Correspondent

Pressure for appointment of political persons to the state-owned financial institutions is still on despite involvement of such persons in the past led to unprecedented loan scams in the country’s banking history. Finance ministry officials said the bank and financial institution division was reviewing a proposal for appointment of Jatiya Party presidium member Mir Abdus Sabur to a post of a state-owned financial institution.
The proposal was forward to finance minister AMA Muhith last month by prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s political adviser HT Imam. Imam’s request came when the country’s state-owned banks like Sonali, BASIC and Janata are still trying to recover the losses they suffered due to a series of loan scams that took place because of directors appointed on political consideration by the ruling party. Sonali Bank suffered the single-biggest loan forgery of Tk 3,500 crore in 2012 by little known Hallmark Group. The bank is yet to recover any single penny. Bismillah Group swindled Tk 1,200 crore from Janata Bank. Loans totaling Tk 4,236 crore were extended to 335 little-known clients in gross violation of banking rules by the previous BASIC board of director led by Sheikh Abdul Hye who served as the bank’s chairman from 2009 to June 2014. On June 9, 2014, Muhith blamed the partisan directors for the loan scams saying that the decision was ‘unwise’ and backfired. Experts including Centre for Policy Dialogue executive director Mustafizur Rahman and Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman said the number of such directors was still high despite Muhith’s realisation.

Moreover, the ministry of finance was still facing such political pressure, they said. It is reported that at least 40 per cent of the directors in the state-owned financial institutions enjoyed political blessings which might lead to new loans scandals. Quoting a letter from HT Imam, a finance ministry official said the PM had directed the ministry of public administration last year to appoint Sabur as the chief of Dhaka WASA or the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority. The PM made the request following lobbying by Rawshan Ershad, who became opposition leader after the lop-sided general election on January 5, boycotted by the mainstream political parties. Imam said the ministry of public administration could not carry out the directive in the last 10 months. The PM asked to appoint Abdus Sabur to any state-owned financial institutions except the banks, added Imam. Sabur said he did not know about the latest move, adding that he knew about the move when it was floated last year. Jatiya Patry activists said Sabur had been with the party since 1983. He was leader of the youth front of the party in his locality in the city’s outskirt at Matuail. Aged over 50, Sabur held different posts including adviser to party chairman HM Ershad. He became a presidium member of JP about three years ago. Sabur runs manufacturing business jointly with other businessmen.

Source: New Age BD