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Audit reveals Tk 1,500 crore irregularities at Sonali Bank

Staff Correspondent: Sonali Bank, a state-owned entity, has come under scrutiny for significant financial irregularities amounting to Tk 1,494 crores, as detailed in a compliance audit report presented in the national parliament on Wednesday.
The audit report paints a troubling picture of mismanagement and breaches of financial regulations at Sonali Bank. Among the findings are investments totaling Tk 500 crore made with institutions of dubious financial stability. These investments included irregular purchases of placement shares without subsequent inclusion in the capital market, resulting in losses totaling Tk 423 crore.
Furthermore, the audit revealed loans disbursed without adequate collateral security, leading to defaults amounting to Tk 457 crore. The bank also faces allegations of imprudent lending practices, such as granting loans without verifying ownership of mortgaged properties, which have resulted in defaults totaling Tk 18.45 crores.
The report also highlighted deficiencies in loan rescheduling processes and improper handling of warehouse pledges, contributing to additional financial losses amounting to Tk 65.94 crores.
Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Salehuddin Ahmed criticized the lack of stringent penalties for financial misconduct, stressing the need for exemplary punishments to deter future irregularities. He underscored that unless there is accountability at all levels of management, the culture of impunity will persist.
Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), expressed grave concerns over the pervasive irregularities in the banking sector. He attributed these issues to a lack of robust enforcement mechanisms against corruption and defaulters, which has eroded public trust and exacerbated financial instability.
The audit findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in governance and supervision within Bangladesh’s banking sector. It calls for stricter regulatory oversight and enforcement to restore confidence among depositors and investors alike.

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