Almost the entire family of Ferdous Khan Alamgir, owner of Baghdad Group, lived in Canada after defaulting on around Tk300 crore bank loans.
Alamgir himself was on the run for 12 years with a defaulted loan of Tk158 crore but he is now spending life in prison.
The Chattogram Artha Rin Adalat, money loan court, has sentenced him to 20 months imprisonment in four cases. Earlier, police arrested his wife Meherun Nesha. The court also sent her to jail at that time. She is currently out on bail.
The couple is not alone. Thanks to the court's performance, some of the defaulters who had been living a luxurious life by embezzling crores of taka from banks year after year have ended up in jail, some of them have fled following the news of punishment and some others faced bans on leaving the country.
Mohammad Nurunnabi Talukder, owner of the Chattogram Soap and Chemical Industry, and his daughter, businessman Ivy Nasreen, have roamed free for 14 years even after becoming loan defaulters. Exim Bank officials could not recover its loans despite making rounds after them.
Recently, Nurunnabi had to land in jail after he appeared in court in a loan default case. The court has issued a warrant for the arrest of his daughter after sentencing her to jail for five months in the same case.
Judge (Joint District Judge) Md Mujahidur Rahman of the Chattogram Artha Rin Adalat has jailed 25 loan defaulters in the last year. Five persons have been sent to jail for embezzling bank money.
Default loan recovery increased
According to lawyers at the money loan court, earlier the record of convictions of defaulting businesspeople was low. At present, due to the strictness of the court, the amount of defaulted loan collection is increasing.
Chattogram-based senior lawyer Md Abul Hasan Sahabuddin, who has been handling cases in the Artha Rin Adalat for a long time, shared his experiences with The Business Standard.
"Even a year ago, the conviction rate of defaulting businessmen was very low. Banks had to make rounds after businessmen for getting back loans. But, in the last year, the number of such incidents in Chattogram has decreased significantly," he said.
"The number of punished defaulting businessmen has increased since this judge joined the court. Due to this, the amount of defaulted loan recovery is increasing. In Chattogram alone, Sonali Bank's Agrabad Branch has recovered defaulted loan of around Tk30 crore. In all, the amount of collection in the banking sector of Chattogram will be more than several hundred crores," he added.
Another lawyer, Zia Habib Ahsan, told TBS that the amount of debt collection in Chattogram has increased unexpectedly as the present judges have been issuing arrest warrants and punishing defaulters one after another.
"In all, about 10% of the long-term defaulted loans have been recovered in the last year. The biggest thing is that the court has also brought the corrupt bank officials to justice in these cases," he added.
25 defaulters convicted in one year
Top businessmen in Chattogram who have been sentenced to five months in jail for default are BNP leader Md Shamsul Alam, director of Elias Brothers Limited, directors Md Nurul Abshar, Md Nurul Alam, Kamrun Nahar Begum and Tahmina Begum of the same company.
The convicts also include Parvez Alam, husband of Awami League MP Khadijatul Anwar Soni, and her father-in-law MM Alam, top businessman Md Joynal Abedin, owner of Chattogram Agro Products Md Shah Alam and his wife Ayesha Begum, owners of Z & Day International Joynal Abdin and Alauddin.
Harunur Rashid, owner of Chattagram Ispat Limited, and his wife Anjuman Ara Begum, Israt Jahan Moni, owner of Sybe Steel Re-rolling Mills, and her guarantor Md Sirajuddaula, former chairman of Four H Group Md Mamunur Rashid Chowdhury, businessman Md Noor Nabi, businesswoman Ivy Nasreen, Md Nurunnabi Talukder, Ferdous Khan Alamgir, Yusuf Apparels Ltd's managing director Parvez Mohammad Yusuf, its Chairman Nishat Sultana and Meherun Nesha.
Arrest warrants for 1,373 defaulters
From 19 January 2021 to January 2022, arrest warrants have been issued against 1,373 defaulters in Chattagram. However, the arrest rate of the accused is very low against these warrants.
According to the court's observation, the cases are not being disposed of in time as the arrest warrants have not been executed on time.
On 22 May, the money loan court issued a special order to the Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) to arrest the top defaulters.
In the verdict of a case, the court mentioned, "A large number of defaulters in the banking sector had defaulted on their loans as top debtors were able to avoid arrests."
The court also remarked that "the weakness of the police operation has become clear" as the arrest warrants were not carried out.
Explaining the reason for the failure, CMP Commissioner Saleh Mohammed Tanvir told TBS, "The accused in the money loan court knew in advance that an arrest warrant had been issued against them. As a result, they fled before police conducted an operation for the arrest.
"In addition, the police face various pressures in arresting the accused in other cases," he added.