Leelaboti Halder is a retired schoolteacher and has three bank accounts with transactions of Tk160 crore. This has been possible only because she is the mother of Proshanta Kumar Halder, alias PK Halder – the mastermind of one of the biggest financial scams in the history of Bangladesh.
Some Tk160 crore was deposited in his mother Lilaboti Halder's three accounts in between 2015 and 2019. Three individuals deposited Tk63 crore to those accounts after taking loans from Reliance Finance, while PK Halder was managing director of the financial institution.
Not just his mother, the fraudster used family members, relatives and friends to swindle money out of banks and financial institutions, keeping himself cleverly safe and untouched.
PK Halder's style is somewhat unique as the man involved his near and dear ones in the nexus, while classical criminological theories consider family and friends as a deterrent to crime.
He set up various companies in their names, transferred money to their accounts, and again siphoned off the money through them. In the financial fraud, this is called layering – a process of separating proceeds of criminal activity from their origin.
In return, the families and friends had also benefited financially.
The list of PK Halder's 82 accomplices – submitted to the High Court by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) – includes his mother, brother, brother's wife, relatives, friends and former colleagues.
According to the BFIU, Halder embezzled Tk3,634 crore through them. He set up ghost companies in their names and laundered the money.
According to a BFIU investigation, Tk240 crore was deposited in PK Halder's personal bank accounts at different times. And Tk823 crore was deposited in the bank accounts of two companies owned by him.
In 2018, PK Halder with his brother Pritish Kumar Haldar opened a company named HALL Trip Technology in India. Earlier in 2014, another company named P&L HALL Holding Inc was set up in Canada with PK Haldar, Pritish Kumar Haldar and Pritish's wife Sushmita Saha as its directors.
Although Pritish Kumar Haldar had a deposit of Tk50 lakh in his bank account, he owned various companies, including HALL Technology, HALL Trip Technology, P&L Holding, Micro Technologies and Northern Jute. Over Tk500 crore was deposited in these institutions' bank accounts.
Sushmita Saha was also a director of several organisations. The organisations had also had huge financial transactions through their bank accounts.
Amitabh Adhikari, a cousin of PK Halder, was the managing director of Annan Chemicals, which was under the authority of People's Leasing. Ujjwal Kumar Nandi, director and chairman of the company, is a former colleague of PK Halder.
Nandi's wife Anita Kar was also the director of the company. Another director of the company was Abhijit Adhikari, another cousin of PK Halder.
However, PK Halder was the beneficiary of the organisation.
A loan of Tk70.72 crore was taken for the company's business expansion, but not a single penny was used for the purpose, and all the money was transferred to different people's accounts and later withdrawn.
Shankha Bepari, PK Halder's cousin, took out a loan of Tk83.34 crore in the name of his company, named Moon Enterprise, but the money was transferred to different companies' accounts. Of the amount, Tk21.24 crore and Tk15 crore were transferred to the two accounts of Marco Trade – a company of Nowsher-ul Islam, a close associate of PK Halder – with Reliance Finance.
From this loan, Tk6 crore was transferred to Sigma Capital Management Limited's account with Brac Bank.
Shankha Bepari was arrested by the ACC on 4 January.
Money laundering by family, relatives and friends
PK Halder's former colleague Uzzal Kumar Nandi and his cousin Amitabh Adhikari were the chairman and director respectively of People's Leasing and Financial Services Limited from 2015 to December 2019.
The duo first borrowed from International Leasing against ghost companies. Then they used the companies' portfolios to get to the top of People's Leasing. And once they were People's Leasing chairman and director, they would approve loans from the non-bank financial institution to the same ghost companies.
Nowsherul Islam is another close associate of Halder owning Nature Enterprise and MTB Marine Limited. From 2015 to 2019, Nowsherul's multiple bank accounts received Tk3,520 crore from International Leasing, FAS Leasing and People's Leasing in connection with loans against his ghost companies.
Of the amount, Tk2,432 crore was withdrawn while the ACC froze the remaining Tk952 crore.
Nowsher's wife Mumtaz Begum too received around Tk4 crore in her multiple accounts – part of amounts actually disbursed as loans against ghost companies. Of the amount, Mumtaz withdrew Tk2.5 crore while the ACC froze Tk2.69 crore.
Showing loans against ghost companies, more than Tk800 crore was transferred to multiple accounts of MTB Marine Director Basudev Banarji and his wife and also Nature Enterprise Director Papia Banarji.
Sukumar Mridha, owner of Sukumar & Associates, used to file tax returns for PK Halder and his family members. A number of PK Halder's companies were set up using the office address.
Mridha's daughter Anindita, one of the directors of Wintel International, borrowed a total of Tk100 crore from FAS Finance and International Leasing. She did not repay the loans. Bangladesh Industrial Finance Company Limited shares were also bought in the name of Anindita.
Hailing from Pirojpur, PK Halder's crony Abantika Baral used to work as a receptionist at Reliance Insurance. She worked for a number of companies, including People's Leasing and Halder's P&L.
Abantika later became a director of several companies, including PK Halder's Sukhada Properties Limited.
Although Abantika did not take out any loan from NRB Global Bank and a few other financial institutions, large sums of money were regularly transferred directly from those institutions to her bank accounts. PK Halder was in charge of the institutions.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has seized a flat bought in the name of Abantika in Dhanmondi, following a court order. Its market value amounts to more than Tk4.5 crore. The ACC also arrested Abantika last week.
A loan of Tk65 crore was taken from International Leasing in the name of an organisation called Reptile Firm, on the pretext of business expansion. This money was transferred to various individuals and organisations, including PK Halder and Ujjal Kumar Nandi, in various stages.
According to an ACC investigation, AKM Shahid Reza, director of Mercantile Bank, a friend of PK Halder, was found to have transferred Tk104 crore to his five interest-serving companies. Shahid Reza and three other members of his family have appeared on the BFIU list. They are Shawkat Reza, Jobeda Begum and Nahid Reza.
Similarly, loans of Tk74 crore taken out in the name of seven non-existent companies, including Konika Enterprise and MTB Marine, were transferred to JK Trade International's account with One Bank's Chattogram Station Road branch instead of the money being deposited in the bank accounts of those companies.
The owner of JK Trade International is Irfan Ahmed Khan. He is a former managing director of Bank Asia. His name is also on the BFIU list.
More people who are on the list
According to the BFIU list, PK Halder added many people from his birthplace Pirojpur and adjacent areas in the cycle.
Among them are Swapan Kumar Mistry and his wife Purnima Rani Halder of Pirojpur, Swapan's brother Uttam Kumar Mistry, Uttam's wife Atasi Mridha, Ratan Kumar Biswas, Shah Alam Sheikh, Ananga Mohan Roy, Gopal Chandra Ganguly, Amal Krishna Das, Mashiur Rahman, Sabbir Ahmed, Monirul Islam and Asma Siddique.
The BFIU list also includes PrashantaDeuri of Jhalokathi, Insan Ali Sheikh and Hafiza Khanam of Bagerhat, Amal Chandra Das of Barisal, Subrata Das and his wife Shuvra Rani Das of Jashore, Milon Kumar Das, Ram Prasad Roy of Magura, Shahadat Hossain of Bhola and Kamruzzaman of Satkhira as associates of PK Halder.
The list also includes Kazi Momrez Mahmud and his wife Afroz Suraiya Majumder, Syeda Ruhi Gajanvi, Ruhi's brothers Rezaur Rahman and Mizanur Rahman, M Nurul Alam, Ashutosh Chowdhury, Utpal Majumder, Mostafizur Rahman, Omar Sharif, Soma Ghosh, Sudeb Kumar Bhowmik, Sheikh Moinul Islam Mithu, Sanjeev Kumar Hawlader, Tofazzal Hossain, Abu RajibMaruf, Irfan Uddin Ahmed, Shahnaz Begum, Jamil Mahmud, Imam Hossain, AKM Harunur Rashid, Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Jamal Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury.
The BFIU list also mentions Ram Prasad, Shah Abrar Faiyaz, Md Delwar Hossain, Kazi Mahjabin Mumtaz, Jahangir Alam, Solaiman Chowdhury, Iqbal Sayeed, Arun Kumar Kundu, Siddiqur Rahman and his wife Mahfuza Rahman Baby, NM Parvez Chowdhury and Rezaul Karim as associates of PK Halder.
List likely to be presented before HC Wednesday
The BFIU has already submitted the report to the Attorney General's Office, and it could be presented before the court Wednesday.
The BFIU has provided a complete list of PK Halder's associates in money laundering, said Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik.
Referring to the report, he said the embezzled money was laundered to India, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, and spent for various purposes, including purchasing homes there.
According to the BFIU, PK Halder embezzled a total of Tk3,634 crore from various banks, financial institutions and capital markets. Loans from the entities were taken against ghost companies for layering.
The BFIU report mentions the actual beneficiaries of those loans taken against 43 companies. A copy of the report has also been sent to the ACC.
According to multiple ACC sources, the BFIU report and the ACC investigation altogether provide a complete picture of PK Halder's fraudulent activities. The ACC will soon initiate a series of cases based on these investigations of fraud.
The ACC has been inquiring into PK Halder for quite a long time. The inquiry suggests PK Halder has embezzled at least Tk11,000 crore from several institutions.
Of those, he misappropriated around Tk3,600 crore from International Leasing. With the same tactic, he and his companies embezzled and laundered about Tk2,200 crore from FAS Finance, Tk2,500 crore from Reliance Finance and about Tk3,000 crore from People's Leasing.
These amounts were taken out as loans with almost no mortgage. The ACC says the chances of the loans being repaid are slim.
The ACC is now investigating the case filed against PK Halder on 8 January last year over accumulating illegal wealth worth around Tk275 crore. The swindler is currently facing an Interpol arrest warrant, while a Dhaka court has already ordered the seizure of all his assets.