Rajshahi Advocates' Bar Association has taken punitive actions against 16 pro-BNP lawyers for alleged embezzlement of around Tk 1.28 crore from its benevolent fund.
The decision was taken at a meeting held at the association's office on Monday, said its general secretary Ekramul Haque.
According to it, memberships of three lawyers -- former general secretary Jamshed Ali, Mainul Ahsan and Aftabur Rahman -- were suspended for three years.
Memberships of six -- Shamsul Haque, Munshi Abul Kalam Azad, Abdur Razzak Sarker, Abdul Matin Chowdhury, Mahbubur Rahman, and Adib Imam -- was cancelled for six months.
Seven others -- former presidents Abul Kashem and Mozammel Haque, former fund chairman Ershad Ali, former joint secretary Parvez Tawfiq Zahedi, Habibur Rahman, Sanwar Kabir, and Jane Alam -- would be able to work as lawyers, but cannot enjoy fund benefits until the money is returned.
Ekramul said a recent scrutiny found that the lawyers were involved in embezzling the money between 2010 and 2016. “The decision was taken after their explanations were found unsatisfactory.”
He said 40 percent of the association's earnings from sales of various court-related fees, documents and other items are added to the fund and the money is deposited to different banks.
The scrutiny found that interests of the deposited money and in some cases, the funds were misappropriated.
Contacted, former general secretary Jamshed Ali said actions taken against them were “unjustified and politically motivated”.
“It's a ploy to stop us from taking part in the association election,” he alleged. He claimed that the scrutiny was not accurate. “They showed that the fund was embezzled, though it was deducted by the banks as value added tax,” he claimed.
Refuting the claim, Ekramul told The Daily Star yesterday, “The association had around Tk 3.12 crore in 52 FDRs when they [the accused lawyers] took charge in 2010. In January 2017, when the new committee was about to take charge, we found around Tk 6.33 crore in 42 FDRs.”
“There should be more money in the banks… also, every year we deposited around Tk 1.4 crore from the sales of court items… what happened to that money and the 10 FDRs?”