Sonali board turns down BB order to settle disputed IBPsShafiqul Islam Jibon
Sonali Bank board has refused to carry out a Bangladesh Bank instruction to settle its disputed inland bill purchases with other commercial banks on the ground that the IBPs, mostly related to the much talked-about embezzlement by the Hall-Mark Group, are now under an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
In a recent meeting the BB asked the management of the country’s largest state-owned bank to settle payments with 27 commercial banks against the IBPs within 15 days starting from January 4. An IBP is a bill of exchange that is drawn and made payable in local currency in the same country.
Accordingly, the Sonali Bank management submitted a proposal to its board of directors on Sunday for settling such payments involving about 400 disputed bills worth around Tk 1,500 crore.
‘But, the board of directors of Sonali Bank has refused to settle the payments as the disputed IBPs are currently under investigation by the ACC,’ a senior official of the bank told New Age on Monday.
Zaid Bakht, one of the newly-appointed directors of Sonali Bank, said, ‘The ACC is currently investigating the disputed “inland bills” of Sonali Bank. So, this bank has no way to settle such bills until the investigation of the ACC comes to an end.’
‘There is no problem with genuine IBPs. So, the board asked the management to settle the genuine IBPs. But, if Sonali Bank pays money against the disputed IBPs before conclusion of the ACC probe, the entire liability of the settlement will rest on Sonali Bank alone,’ said Zaid, also research director of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
‘The central bank should realise this,’ he added.
However, the Sonali Bank senior official further said if the bank did not settle the bills within the January 18 deadline, the central bank had threatened to debit the amount from Sonali Bank’s current account with it. The bank may also be declared a ‘problem bank’ subsequently, he said. Sonali Bank has seven days left to settle the transactions to avoid any such regulatory action.
Earlier, two of the 27 banks – Janata and Rupali – served legal notices on Sonali Bank to get their money back with overdue interests against the IBPs.
Sonali Bank, however, has not settled the transactions with the two state-run banks, although the notice period expired last week.
When contacted by New Age, BB officials concerned declined Monday to make any comment on the issue.
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