Where did the money go? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 22, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:39 AM, February 22, 2021

Where did the money go?

People’s Leasing and some BB officials trade blame over Tk 6.5cr spent to cover up scam

The chairman of a non-banking financial institution, central bank officials, and an audit firm are giving different statements about a scam involving Tk 6.5 crore.

Uzzal Kumar Nandi, chairman of People's Leasing and Financial Services (PLFS), told a magistrate last week that certain Bangladesh Bank officials took the money in bribes between 2009 and 2015.

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"To bury [other] misdeeds in the PLFS, a deputy governor, a general manager, and others of the central bank were given about Tk 6.5 crore between 2009 and 2015," he said.

But chartered accountancy firm HodaVasi Chowdhury & Co said it found in an audit that the money was taken illegally by members of the PLFS board of directors.

PLFS hired HodaVasi in November 2015 for the audit. The latter submitted the report the following year.

Plagued by the multiple financial scams, PLFS is now in the process of being liquidated.

People who were in the management of the leasing company between 2009 and 2015 showed on papers that the Tk 6.5 crore went into business development, namely to buy gifts for clients or to pat the valued clients.

Based on documents and vouchers, the accounting firm said it came to the assumption that the money was actually withdrawn illegally for board meeting purposes.

The Daily Star has a copy of the audit findings.

Contacted, M Moazzam Hossain, who was the chairman of the 11-member PLFS board between April 2013 and November 2015, said the audit report was completely wrong.

"There is a strong link between HodaVasi Chowdhury & Co and Uzzal [PLFS chairman who said the money was spent in bribes] as the latter was once an audit manager there," he said.

Sk Md Tarikul Islam, who led the audit, said that the report was based on evidence.

He added that he was not allowed to disclose any more information of a client.

According to the audit report, the former directors took the money and made vouchers of expenditure at 92 board meetings between 2009 and 2015.

Meanwhile, an investigation report by the central bank found that Moazzam was also involved in siphoning off Tk 123 crore from PLFS. That inspection was carried out in 2014.

The following year, the central bank removed five PLFS directors due to their alleged involvement in embezzling Tk 358 crore.

When his attention was drawn to this, Moazzam said someone had framed him.

In his confessional statement, Uzzal said Proshanta Kumar Halder, better known as PK Halder, had persuaded Moazzam to quit as the chairman by giving him Tk 12 crore.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been investigating Halder's involvement in siphoning off around Tk 10,000 crore from four financial institutions between 2009 and 2019.

Moazzam denied these allegations too.

"I did not take bribes. I sold my shares for Tk 15 crore. But I have yet to get Tk 6 crore of the amount. I served them a legal notice to this end."

Uzzal said in his statement that Shah Alam, then general manager of Bangladesh Bank's Department of Financial Institutions and Markets, took bribes from PLFS.

The deputy governor and Shah Alam helped scamsters in exchange of Tk 6.5 crore, he said.

Shah Alam was relieved of his duties on February 4 over his possible links to PK Halder.

He said, "I did not take bribes. I joined the department as GM in September 2013. But the amount mentioned by Uzzal was spent between 2009 and 2015."

Md Serajul Islam, an executive director and spokesperson of the Bangladesh Bank, said a fact finding committee led by a deputy governor has been formed to look into the scam.

The committee will submit a report in three months after looking into the matter, he said.

"There is no scope to comment on the matter at this moment," Serajul said.

The central bank commenced liquidating PLFS in July 2019 after it informed the central bank that it would not be able to pay back the depositors.


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