The High Court (HC) has directed the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to file charge sheets within the next two and a half months after completing investigations into 21 cases related to the BASIC Bank loan scam.
However, if the ACC fails to file charges in these cases within this period, the lower court has been asked to consider the bail application of Iqbal Hossain Bhuiyan, one of the accused in those cases.
The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Mohiuddin Shamim passed the order on Thursday after hearing the bail application of Iqbal Hossain Bhuiyan, a managing partner of a privately owned company called SD Survey Firm.
In 2015, the ACC filed 21 cases against some bank officials and businessmen, including Iqbal Hossain Bhuiyan, in connection to a loan of around Tk800 crore from BASIC Bank, overpricing the mortgaged property.
On 12 July 2019, Iqbal Hossain surrendered to the lower court which sent him to jail. Since then he has been imprisoned. In this situation, he applied for bail in the HC that issued a rule on the bail petition. The HC gave its verdict on Thursday after hearing the rule.
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, "Iqbal Hossain Bhuiyan, the director of the survey firm, is involved in embezzling Tk196 crore in the loan fraud case. Overpricing the assets, he submitted the survey report within only one day, based on which a large amount of money was embezzled from BASIC Bank. There are 21 cases against him."
Advocate Mamtaz Parveen Mau, the lawyer for the bail applicant, said, "As per sub-section-5 of section-167 of the criminal procedure code, a case has to be investigated and the report be filed within 120 days. The time can be extended for another 30 days, subject to the permission of the Sessions Judge Court. The investigation of these cases has been going on for over 5.5 years."
The lawyer further said, "Usually, the ACC investigates about the source and destination of the money and there is documentary evidence of these cases. Despite having evidence, if the investigation continues for infinite time, it is a violation of the law, which has already been done in these cases.
The investigation is supposed to be completed within 120 days whereas over 2,000 days have passed and it is not the responsibility of the accused."
The lawyer further said the bail was sought after presenting these arguments. The court has ruled on the bail issue and asked to complete the investigation and file charge sheets within two and a half months of receiving the order."
Deputy Attorney General AKM Aminuddin Manik represented the state.
In the four years, from 2009 to 2013, Tk4,500 crore was taken from the BASIC Bank through loan fraud – the biggest loan scandal in Bangladesh.
The ACC filed 61 cases in connection with the scandal but former chairman of the bank Sheikh Abdul Hye Bachchu and none of the board of directors were accused in the cases.