National Bank has sent a rejoinder to a report carried by The Business Standard on May 30 with the headline "Using a bank as a family wealth."
The rejoinder reads, "National Bank has never disregarded the laws of the land. The appointment of the directors from one family has been done in accordance with the law."
Our reply: The National Bank board currently has six members from the Sikder family, although the Banking Company Act amended in 2018 allows maximum four family members on a bank's board.
The rejoinder says, "The Cambridge International School was established with a good intention of providing better education in the locality. Unfortunately, the school did not succeed due to differences of opinions amongst the entrepreneurs. The loan was later rescheduled, and it has been being repaid in regular instalments, totaling Tk40 crore so far.
"Preparing fake documents, as it has been reported, for taking loans by the Sikder family is false and the family has expressed their utmost disappointment in this regard which may lead to seeking legal recourse."
"Report on the expenditure on CSR is untrue and exaggerated as Sikder Medical College has never received any bus from National Bank Limited. The report should have clearly mentioned that the golf tournament was named as "Bangabandhu Gold Cup Golf Tournament" organised by Bangladesh Army."
"All expenditures including the interior decoration of bank branches were made in compliance with standard practice and procedure. The relevant and supportive documents are available on record."
Our reply: The report was done based on the report of a detailed investigation conducted by the Bangladesh Bank into the bank in 2014.
In its rejoinder, National Bank says, "The loan given to Hasan Telecom has been repaid in the meantime. However, the market value of the collateral could be much higher than the value mentioned in the title deed which is usual in practice."
Our reply: The report was done based on an investigation report of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU).
The rejoinder reads, "Your report regarding the shabby treatment of top executives of the bank is quite unfortunate. The management here has been working in a liberal environment to the maximum permissible limit. The past managing directors left the bank on personal ground. Nevertheless, all of them are maintaining a good social relationship with the bank. Mentionable that former managing director Mr Shafiqur Rahman served the bank as an adviser after leaving the post of the managing director."
Our reply: The report was done after speaking with the retired bankers of the bank. Our report carried Shafiqur Rahman's comment.
National Bank says, "It is surprising that Mr ASM Bulbul, additional managing director of the bank had no knowledge about the report since none from The Business Standard has contacted him. Mr Bulbul should not have any reservation commenting on the business health of the bank while its health is way better than that of the previous year in all parameters."
Our reply: We contacted ASM Bulbul several times for his comment but he did not respond. He sent a text message at 1.26pm on May 28 writing, "I will call you back." But he did not call back even on the following day. We tried to reach him over phone again on May 29 but he did not respond.