Two officials of the SB Exim Bangladesh – a concern of Jhenaidah-based SB Group – have been arrested on allegations of assisting the group's owner Shahjahan Bablu in embezzling over Tk238 crore and laundering over Tk84 crore.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh Police arrested Md Yousuf Hossain Robel (42), SB Group's commercial manager, and Md Imran Mir (37), commercial officer of the firm, confirmed CID Additional Superintendent of Police Sharmin Jahan.
As per a case filed with Motijheel police station in this connection, Yousuf and Imran helped Bablu embezzle and launder the money in the name of exporting terracotta tiles.
Bablu used 72 letters of credit (LC), issued by five foreign shell banks to the SB Exim, to siphon off Tk238.74 crore through 188 export bills with the help of business associates and bank officials.
After investigation, the CID came to know the Jhenaidah factory even had no approval from the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation.
Moreover, Bablu, with the help these officials, sent more than Tk2 crore to two companies in Singapore through banking channel in the name of decorating those offices, said to have set up to run export activities and business promotion.
The two firms -- Punno Gold and Diamond Pte Ltd and Oversea-Chinese Banking Cooperation Ltd – are owned by Bablu, suggesting that he actually laundered the money to Singapore, as per the case.
Meanwhile, SB Exim Bangladesh showed 188 export bills without even exporting the terracotta tiles and brought more than Tk88 crore to Bangladesh through the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dubai.
The CID investigation also found that banks that sanctioned loans to the SB Exim did not scrutinise any of his applications, export documents, export LC or the bill of lading.
Sometimes even without receiving the acceptance of the export bills, some banks took money from other branches and regularly gave out the loans to the SB Exim.