Delta Life Insurance Company Limited has claimed that the chief of the insurance regulator has been harassing the company with a view to solicit a bribe.
In a press conference at Delta Life Tower, in the capital on Sunday, the company officials also said they filed an anti-corruption case against Dr M Mosharraf Hossain, chairman of the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA).
They also played a recorded telephone conversation, allegedly between M Mosharraf and Delta Life legal officer Abdul Awal, which allegedly reflects that the chief of the insurance regulator talks about money in exchange for behaving softly as the primary regulator of the company.
Delta Life Executive Director Chowdhury Qamrul Ahsan told reporters, "IDRA's chairman, once a Delta Life employee, did not approve the 2019 actuarial basis of the company – with mala fide intention. Without the approval, the company could neither finalise its annual report nor call the shareholders' annual general meeting [AGM]."
"He did not approve the renewal of the tenure of Delta Life chief executive officer [CEO] and also threatened to slap unfair regulatory fines on the company," claimed Qamrul Ahsan.
He also claimed that initially IDRA's chairman demanded Tk2 crore in bribes and later reduced the sum to Tk50 lakh. But the company preferred taking legal actions to getting things done through bribes.
Meanwhile, Dr Mosharraf claimed that the company officials had been repeatedly trying to bribe him, but as a regulator he remained strict in his principles.
Asked about the audio clip, he told The Business Standard, "They presented the conversation partially with the mala fide intention of blackmailing the regulator."
"The problems with the company's actuarial basis, allegations of multiple non-compliances against it and appointment of a special auditor were already there even before I became IDRA's chairman. There is nothing personal. The company is facing action which the regulator routinely takes," said Mosharraf.
He also claimed, "Alongside regulation, IDRA is also responsible for the development of the insurance sector. We have been trying to enable Delta Life to publish its pending financial statements and call the AGM – that was the reason the company's legal officer, also my former colleague at that company, has had some conversations with me."
"The money we talked about is not a bribe to the regulator, it is something else, and they should have leaked the entire conversation," he said, adding that, "I also filed a lawsuit against the company which is trying to defame its regulator."
The dispute between the Delta Life and IDRA chairmen came under public discussion at the end of January when The Business Standard reported on an IDRA letter to the company which asked it to show causes for why its board of directors would not be suspended and IDRA should not appoint an administrator in Delta Life.
Earlier, IDRA appointed two chartered accountancy firms to audit and investigate alleged non-compliance within Delta Life and the company repeatedly claimed in the press conference that those were part of the ongoing harassment.
Delta Life, the first private sector life insurer of the country, is also the only life insurer to have achieved a "AAA" credit rating for five years in a row.
"It is unfortunate that the regulator finds it appropriate just to suspend our board of directors and appoint an administrator at the company," said Zeyad Rahman, a director of Delta Life.
He denied any anomalies within the company against which the regulator can take actions.
Delta Life CEO Adeeba Rahman and many senior officials were present at the press conference.