Absconding Chittagong businessmen
Zarif Mahmud with Ayub Ali: The banks and financial institutions of Chittagong are in crisis due to the large number of defaulters leaving the country and living abroad. The amount of default loans in Chittagong is over than Tk 50,000 crore.
According to lending banks, industry insiders, lawyers and court officials, 33 leaders of 22 businesses in Chittagong have left the country in the last decade with debts of nearly Tk 20,000 crore.
11 of these traders are in Canada. 6 are based in London, 4 in USA, 3 in Malaysia, 3 in UAE, 2 in Turkey and 1 each in Australia, Montenegro and Singapore. The whereabouts of the 33 persons are not known.
All of them have multiple cases under Finance and Check Bounce Act. The court also has an arrest warrant against them. 26 people are banned from leaving the country. However, 13 people migrated before the ban and another 13 after the ban.
According to sources close to them, some of them are running various businesses abroad like
five-star hotels, money exchange, accommodation, super shops and petrol pumps.
Ashikur Rahman Lashkar, the leader of Mahin Enterprises, is the latest addition to the ranks of businessmen who left the country without repaying their bank loans. This businessman of Chittagong’s shipbreaking industry has taken a loan of Tk 2,000 crore from 10 banks.
Before that, five leaders of Habib Group, a bonafid business family of Chittagong, left the country at the end of last year. The group’s debt to 30 banks and financial institutions is over Tk 4,000 crore.
Many of these traders face multiple arrest warrants and bans from leaving the country. For example, Noorjahan Group director Zaheer Ahmed Ratan left the country last year after an arrest warrant was issued against him.
Once one of the country’s leading trading entities in the import of consumer goods, especially edible oil, the group owes more than Tk 2,600 crore to various banks.
Mishmak Group got a loan of Tk 1,500 crore from several banks in 2008-09 after expanding its business in shipbreaking and housing sectors. However, the three brothers who are the leaders of the group left the country in 2013.
Currently, Mizanur Rahman Shaheen and Humayun Kabir are living in Canada with their family. Mujibur Rahman Milon is in Singapore.
Muhammad Ali, owner of Imam Group, a businessman in the consumer goods and apparel sector, fled to the United Arab Emirates in 2020 after an arrest warrant was issued in 55 cases. This businessman owes about Tk 800 crores to various banks and financial institutions.
Some of these traders have left the country but some of their businesses are still active. For example, Taimur Rahman, the current owner of Mustafa Group, said that his company was in crisis due to large losses in the consumer goods and shipwreck sectors in the financial year 2012-15. Group Managing Director Zahir Uddin migrated to Canada without paying Tk 2,500 crore loan.
Taimur said, we are maintaining contact with the court and creditor banks to reschedule the loan.
Although some assets have been sold, I am trying to return to the business by reconciling the bank’s money.
Spread of bad debt
Apart from those discussed above, there are many others who have left the country without repaying their bank loans.
For example,Giyas Uddin Kusum of Shah Amanat Iron Mart of Sitakunda immigrated to Canada in 2015 after defaulting on Tk 600 crore. SM Abdul Hai, the owner of Legend Holding, crossed to Canada in 2017 without paying the debt of Tk 525 crore.
Mohammad Isa Badsha, the chairman of Badsha Group, migrated to Canada in 2018 with a debt of Tk 500 crore to 8 banks. Naam Corporation leader Abdul Alim Chowdhury left the country in 2019 after taking a loan of Tk 500 crore from 6 banks and a financial institution.
In addition, Nazmul Abedin migrated to the UK in 2015 without paying Tk 400 crore to four banks. He took these loans in the name of his companies. Shah Alam of Alam& Co. has been going to Malaysia for the last four years with a loan of Tk 300 crore from 8 banks.
Mohammad Morshed, the owner of C&A Group, migrated to the US with his wife in 2018, leaving behind a debt of Tk 280 crore. MAF International owner MaqsudulAlam moved to Australia in 2014 with unpaid debts of Tk 200 crore to four banks.
Zahid Hossain Mia, the director of Zahid Enterprises left Malaysia without repaying the Tk 186 crore loan taken from various banks.
Ferdous Khan Alamgir, the owner of Baghdad Group, moved to Canada in 2020 with a loan of Tk 150 crore to five banks.
DidarulAlam, the owner of Chittagong’s Iffat International, has gone to Canada without repaying a loan of about Tk 150 crore taken from two banks. The owner of SAARC International, Anwarul Haque Chowdhury, failed to repay a loan of Tk 71 crore taken from two banks and moved to Malaysia with his family in 2012.
SM Shamim Iqbal, owner of NM Trading Corporation and former chairman of Al ArafahIslami Bank, left for Canada with his family in 2019 after defaulting on a loan of Tk 70 crore from three banks. Liaquat Ali Chowdhury, the owner of SL Enterprises in Khatunganj, went to London in 2012 without paying Tk 20 crore taken from various banks.
In 2013, Yasir Enterprises of Khatunganj faced a significant loss in the import of chickpeas. Its owner, Mohammad Mojaher Hossain, is reported to have left Canada in 2014 after defaulting on a loan of Tk 1,200 crore taken from various banks.
On February 15 last year, the debt recovery court sentenced Mojaher to one-and-a-half years in prison and issued an arrest warrant against him in a case filed by three banks. Recently, Yasir Enterprise office was found closed after going to the ground.
The three brothers who own Mack International entered the shipbreaking business in 2007 from the consumer goods sector. Due to ups and downs in the global market, the company faced substantial losses. After Zainal Abedin moved to Canada with his family, Jamil Abedin moved to the United States in 2012.
Currently, the company owes more than Tk 800 crore to 12 banks and financial institutions.
Easy loan facility
Ali Tarek Parvez, Executive Vice President of NCC Bank, said that before the 2014-15 financial year, the rules and regulations were not well followed in providing bank loans in Chittagong.
As there was unhealthy competition between local officials in providing loans to meet the banks’ targets, similarly, force loans were given based on the relationship of borrowers with bank managers-entrepreneurs.
Some businessmen suffered losses, and some left the country intentionally without repaying bank loans’ – he told.
“As so many businessmen have left the country, bank officials have to run to court every day to recover these loans.”
This senior banker commented that the money of the bank is the deposit of the people, so the government should take initiative to bring the defaulters back to the country to recover this money.
Syed Mahmud Akhtar, executive vice-president of Mutual Trust Bank and head of wholesale banking branch of Chittagong said, “The banks did not follow proper regulations in giving these loans. In this, some businessmen fell into losses, others deliberately embezzled money and put the bank in danger.
Banks are now suing the defaulters, but many of them have already gone abroad. As a result, it has become difficult to take effective action against them,” he added.
What the experts are saying
Rezaul Karim, assistant bench of the Chittagong loan court, said that 30-32 businessmen who have arrest warrants and prohibitions are out of the country. There are several cases against them with arrest warrants, ban on leaving the country and confiscation of passports or orders to appear in court in person.
Businessmen who do not appear after being ordered are considered absconders in court. Their lawyers are handling the cases on behalf of these traders. But, in some cases, the court is walking in favor of one-sided hearing and judgment as the defendant did not appear. However, he said that no order of the court has been implemented so far.
This official of the Finance and Debt Court said, “We have come to know that the director of Nurjahan Group has already left the country. That is why no one obeyed any order of the court.
In the last two years, the Chittagong Money Debt Court has recovered about Tk 1,500 crore worth of defaulted loans. During this period, 2,241 cases related to money claims of Tk 4,145 crores were announced.
AKM Shahriar Reza (Riyadh), an attorney at the Financial Debt Court, said that the amount of defaulted loans has increased in Chittagong as many defaulters have left the country.
He also said that in the last two years, due to the courts playing an active role in the case of defaulters, debt collection has increased and the number of cases has decreased. How defaulters can be brought back to the country The authorities have no initiative to bring back these defaulters from abroad. According to the bankers, in order to bring them back, the lending bank, Bangladesh Bank, law enforcement agencies and other related parties should coordinate and make a united effort.
According to the information of various banks and financial debt courts, currently 55 companies of Chittagong, including various industrial groups, have defaulted loans of about Tk 50 thousand crore with banks and non-bank financial institutions.
The Finance and Debt Court has ordered Milon, chairman of Mishmak Group, to be brought back to the country from Singapore on January 5 this year in the case of thousands of crores of default. In particular, the Home Secretary and Finance Secretary and the Governor of Bangladesh Bank have been asked to take measures to implement this order.
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