The Exim Bank authorities have sued the managing director of Sikder Group of Companies and his brother for allegedly torturing two top officials of the bank and firing at them over a Tk 500-crore loan.
In a statement to the media, the National Bank Limited (NBL), a concern of Sikder Group of Companies, said the case was “baseless” and “fabricated”, and that Ron Haque Sikder, managing director of Sikder Group, “did not apply for any such loan”.
The case was filed with Gulshan Police Station against Ron and his brother Dipu Haque Sikder on May 19, SM Kamruzzaman, officer-in-charge of the station, told this newspaper.
According to the case statement, Ron Haque went to the Gulshan Avenue branch of Exim Bank on May 7 morning and put forward a proposal to take Tk 500-crore loan.
He asked the bank’s Managing Director Mohammed Haider Ali Miah and Additional MD Mohammad Feroz Hossain to visit the Group’s property in Narayanganj’s Rupganj, which the Group offered as collateral for the loan.
Around noon, the two Exim Bank officials, along with Ron and a top NBL official, went to visit the property in Rupganj, said the statement of the case filed by Exim Bank Director Lt Col (retd) Serajul Islam.
The two Exim Bank high-ups told Sikder Group officials there that the value of the property was lower than what the Group’s MD had claimed. The Group officials then requested the two to visit another property at Purbachal.
The Exim Bank officials initially refused to visit the Group’s property at Purbachal saying they had a meeting with Bangladesh Bank officials.
But the two finally agreed following request from Ron Haque. They saw the property at Purbachal from outside and refused to enter the site, saying they were running late for the meeting with BB officials, according to the case statement.
The two eventually entered the site upon Ron Haque’s request. They, however, turned their car back towards the capital as they could not see the cars of Ron Haque and others.
On their way back to the city, they stopped their car on the 300-foot road, seeing the vehicles of Ron Haque and others, including NBL high-ups.
Ron Haque forced the two Exim Bank officials to apologise. At one stage, he fired from his pistol in an attempt to kill Exim Bank MD Haider. The bullet flew past Haider’s left ear, said the statement.
As Ron Haque was about to fire at Exim Bank Additional MD Feroz, he hid behind a car to save himself, it mentioned.
Later, Ron Haque and others took away the cell phones of the Exim Bank officials. They took the two to “Sikder House” in the capital’s Banani area, keeping them hostages at gunpoint, according to the statement.
At the house, the two accused threatened the Exim Bank officials with death and finally let them go after they signed a blank paper at gunpoint, it added.
Asked, Rafiqul Islam, assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Gulshan Zone), said, “We are trying to arrest the accused.”
In the statement to the media on Wednesday evening, the NBL termed the case “baseless” and “fabricated”.
The statement, signed by NBL’s Legal Adviser Abdul Baset Majumder, said Ron Haque did not apply for any such loan, and that the case was filed to socially malign him, the NBL and its board of directors.
It said Ron Haque did not visit the Gulshan Avenue branch of Exim Bank on May 7. “So, there is no question of any bargaining over loan and collateral.”
It alleged that a director of the Exim Bank took a loan from the NBL to expand business and another loan against the name of his daughter. The director even wanted to take a loan from the NBL, remaining anonymous.
It further said Ron Haque, the NBL and its directors have been running businesses in various sectors with a good reputation.
Baset strongly protested the filing of the “baseless” case and said his client firmly believes that there will be an impartial investigation and that the culprits will face legal action.
EXIM BANK’S STATEMENT
On behalf of Exim Bank, Supreme Court lawyer Mia Mohammad Kawsar Alam in a statement yesterday said the complainant didn’t raise any allegations against the NBL.
He said the plaintiff of the case rejected the NBL statement, which was “false”, “imaginary” and “unacceptable”. It was aimed at diverting the issue.
Matters such as a director of Exim Bank taking a loan from the NBL or a director’s daughter seeking a loan from the NBL were irrelevant and had nothing to do with the case, Kawsar mentioned.
It is surprising that a bank issued such a statement, citing irrelevant matters, he added.
He further said the NBL denied the fact that Ron Haque sought a loan. Sikder Group is a long-term borrower of Exim Bank and the incident took place over collateral for a Tk 500-crore loan.
The lawyer also refuted the allegation that the complainant had filed the case to malign the NBL and its board of directors.
IMPACT ON BANKS
Directors of two banks — the NBL and the EXIM Bank — had earlier taken loans from each other’s banks, which led to conflict between them, said officials of the BB and commercial banks.
The Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, a forum of managing directors of banks, on Wednesday considered writing to the BB to take steps to prevent recurrence of such unpleasant incident, the MD of a bank told this newspaper, seeking anonymity.
“The ABB usually takes measures when any MD of a bank faces difficulties from delinquent borrowers or groups. But the organisation is now silent because of business-related conflicts between the directors of the two groups,” said the MD.
Talking to this newspaper, Syed Mahbubur Rahman, the managing director of Mutual Trust Bank, said the latest incident, reported by the media, was completely unexpected.
This may have an adverse impact on banks as some foreign counterpart banks are asking what is happening in the country’s banking sector, he said.
“We all should perform our duties responsibly in the interest of the banking sector or else both local and foreign entities will lose confidence in the country’s banks,” said Mahbubur.