He had a pure heart. Perhaps too pure to be heeded in a corruption-infested ecosystem.
After the stock market crash of Bangladesh in 2010-11, the government formed a three-member committee to investigate the debacle. It was headed by the then Krishi Bank Chairman. The committee submitted the probe report to the government after three months.
The report named names, blamed institutions, and it brought such embarrassment to influential quarters that the report was never made public.
Such was the quality of Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, the head of the said probe committee, who also served as the deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank during 1998 to 2000.
Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled passed away at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMU) early Wednesday. He was 80. Ibrahim Khaled contracted coronavirus in the last week of January and suffered from pneumonia. He was admitted to Bangladesh Specialised Hospital in Shyamoli earlier this month.
Later on 21 February, he was transferred to BSMMU as he started having other physical complications. He was kept on life support for the past few days at BSMMU as his condition deteriorated, where he eventually died.
"It's a great loss. He was a man of principle. He would courageously make his point and stick to it. The society needs people like him to guide it through the right course," said Dr Mohammed Farashuddin, the seventh Governor of Bangladesh Bank, who served the institution together with Khaled. "He was very knowledgeable as a banker," the former governor added with a heavy heart.
Colleagues from the wider banking sector also felt Khaled's loss.
"He was an outstanding man. He was outspoken, and never compromised with what was wrong," recalled Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, another former governor of Bangladesh Bank who knew Ibrahim Khaled from working in the banking sector for a very long time.
"He used to clearly point out his ideas about the financial and banking sector; he also led the investigation into the share market crash, and he did all these with the national interest in mind. If the government took cognizance of the insights he shared about the banking sector and the share market, it would be good for the country," said Salehuddin Ahmed.
"The banking sector will miss a talented person such as he was," he added.
The stock market probe committee led by Ibrahim Khaled found heavy manipulation in the stock market, and it held the market regulator responsible for its failure to stop the disaster.
When he was deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, he publicly lashed out at influential loan defaulters and fraudulent borrowers. He once baffled many by openly saying in a programme that a mafia group had control over the banking sector.
On Wednesday, many prominent former bankers also took to social media to reminisce about Khaled.
"He played an important role in setting up the financial framework of the then Apollo Hospital and Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital, as well as its financing," wrote Mamun Rashid, managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Bangladesh.
"Without him, it would have been very difficult to finance the Apollo Hospital. When we were going door-to-door to banks to get them to finance a private, modern hospital in the country, he saw my disappointed face and said not everyone will travel to Singapore and Bangkok for treatment and so we need an international standard hospital here – I will provide Tk30 crore from Pubali Bank. That is how the financing of Apollo Hospital gathered pace."
Mamun, in the post, also pointed out that Khaled faced a lot of harassment during the Ershad regime because of honesty and upright character, while he kept a photo of Bangabandhu in his office even when the BNP-led government was in power.
"In 2007, when many of us were adjusting to the new political reality or taking up a position in its favour, he was possibly the first Bangladeshi who reminded us of the importance of democracy in moving forward," he added.
He rose to such prominence that his death was mourned by different people from various sectors. President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep shock and sorrow over the death of the eminent banker.
"Ibrahim Khaled will be remembered for his courageous role in the investigation team after the share market crash of 2011," said Masud A Hoque, a stock market investor who suffered heavily in the crash. "It is unfortunate that the government did little to nothing to implement what Ibrahim Khaled recommended regarding the overhauling of the market regulator."
Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled was born in Gopalganj in 1941. He holds a master's degree in Geography from the University of Dhaka and an MBA degree from the Institution of Business Administration of the same university.
Ibrahim Khaled had been associated with the banking system of Bangladesh for nearly six decades. He recently joined the Pubali Bank Limited as an independent director. He also served the Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Agrani Bank and Sonali Bank as managing director. He also served the board of directors of Bangladesh Krishi Bank as the chairman.
Aside from his banking career, he was closely associated with the recreational development of the country's children. Until his death, he was the director of Kochi Kachar Mela--a 67 year old organisation.
Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled was awarded the Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah Gold Medal in 2009 and the Khan Bahadur Nawab Ali Chowdhury National Award in 2013 for his outstanding contribution to the banking sector.
His candle burned out, but the legend of this brave heart will continue to live.