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Update : 2016-01-19 23:32:12
Embezzlement of Tk 2,686cr
Hallmark chairman violates bail condition but enjoys free life
Solaiman Salman

Hallmark chairman violates bail condition but enjoys free life

Jesmin Islam

Controversial Hallmark Group chairman Jesmin Islam is enjoying free life though she is violating condition of her bail in 11 cases filed against her and 24 others in connection with embezzlement of Tk 2,686 crore from the state-run Sonali bank. Meanwhile, over two years have already elapsed since the submission of the charge sheets in the 11 cases filed against 25 persons, including top officials of Hallmark and Sonali Bank, but the trial is yet to begin. Hallmark chairman Jesmin was arrested on October 17, 2012, in connection with the much-talked-about Hallmark-Sonail Bank loan scam cases. Later, on August 4, 2013, Judge Md Jahrul Haque of the then Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge’s court granted bail to Jesmin Islam on a condition that she would pay Tk 100 crore every month until their Tk 2,600 crore loan is repaid. Since then, 29 months have passed but Jesmin Islam did not pay any amount of the loan money which is a violation of the court order. Although the ACC lawyers said they will file a petition seeking action against Jesmin, no action is yet to be taken in this matter, court sources said On the other hand, the 11 cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) are still pending with Dhaka Senior Special Judge’s court. On October 7 in 2013, ACC submitted charge sheet against the 25 persons, including Hallmark chairman Jesmin Islam and its managing director and Jesmin’s husband Tanvir Mahmud, in the 11 cases. A month after the submission of the charge sheets, on November 13, 2013, the Dhaka Senior Special Judge’s Court took the charge-sheet into cognizance and issued arrest warrant against 17 fugitives in the cases. According to the court sources, although the court is fixing date one after another for starting trial in the cases, the trial process is yet to begin due to different reasons, including the negligence of ACC counsels. Seeking anonymity, an ACC lawyer said, “The trial in many cases, which were filed by ACC after the Sonali Bank loan scam cases, has already begun at different Dhaka courts but the trial in the 11 cases filed in connection with the loan scandal is yet to start.” He also alleged that the trial in the cases is yet to begin as a section of influential persons is trying to save the corrupt officials of Hallmark and Sonali Bank. According to the charge sheet, Bangladesh Bank in May 2012 unearthed a loan scam of over Tk 3,500 crore in Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch here. Of the sum, a little-known business company Hallmark alone took Tk 2,686 crore on forged documents with the connivance of some bank officials. In October, 2012, the anti-graft body filed 11 cases with Ramna Police Station against 27 top officials of Sonali Bank and Hallmark Group on charges of misappropriating more than Tk 1,568 crore. Hallmark bosses swindled the money by using fake inland bills, meaning the group opened letters of credit (LCs) for purchase and sold it to the bank, which paid Hallmark without verification and documentation, the charge sheet said Hallmark MD Tanvir Mahmud, its general manager Tushar Ahmed, Sonali Bank’s general manager Mir Mohidur Rahman, two DGMs Sheikh Altaf Hossain, and Md Safijuddin are now in jail. Hallmark chairman Jesmin and Atiqur Rahman, DMD of Sonali Bank, are now on bail while another Sonali Bank official Azizur Rahman died inside jail. The remaining 17 accused are still on the run. On November 13, 2013, the court issued arrest warrant against the fugitives but the law enforcement agencies failed to arrest them in the last two years. Denying the allegation of negligence of ACC counsels, Md Kabir Hossain, one of the public prosecutors of the anti-graft watchdog, said, “The charge framing hearing against the accused have started on January 14 in the 11 cases and the trial will begin within a short time after completion of the charge framing hearing.”