Sonali Bank has auctioned a factory and 100 decimals of land owned by Ratanpur Steel Re-Rolling Mills Limited (RSRM) in Bayazid of Chattogram to recover loans in default.
According to an auction announcement published in the media on Wednesday, RSRM – a leading steel company in Chattogram – owes over Tk201 crore to Sonali Bank. Bank officials said the company had taken out loans with the factory and land in Bayazid as collateral.
Founded in 1984, Ratanpur Group with around 800 workers at its production unit had an annual turnover of around Tk700 crore but due to outstanding electricity bills to the tune of Tk40 crore, two of its factories were shuttered for a whole year.
The group currently owes Tk2,200 crore in total to 10 banks and financial institutions. So far, 20 cases have been filed against the group's high officials for the recovery of these dues. Arrest warrants have also been issued against senior RSRM executives in a case filed by Sonali Bank.
Among the other banks besides Sonali Bank, the Laldighi Branch of Janata Bank is owed the largest amount of Tk1,200 crore. Of this amount, the group's Morden Steel Mills Limited owes Tk409 crore, Ratanpur Ship Recycling Industries owes Tk313 crore, and SM Steel Re-Rolling Mills Limited owes Tk482 crore, said Janata Bank Laldighi Corporate Branch Head Golam Mostafa.
He also said the bank filed six cases against three of the group's companies, and arrest warrants have already been issued against senior executives of the companies in two cases.
Sonali Bank is owed the second-highest amount of Tk663 crore to Ratanpur Group. Of this, Modern Steel Mills Ltd owes Tk462 crore and Ratanpur Steel Re-Rolling Mills Ltd owes Tk201 crore to the Laldighi Branch of Sonali Bank.
Sonali Bank's Laldighi Corporate Branch Head Md Yakub Majumder said the bank put the land and factory in Bayazid on auction and also filed 12 cases against the group to recover the loans in default.
Apart from the two banks, Sonali and Janata, the group's Ratanpur Ship Recycling owes Tk150 crore to Mercantile Bank and Tk56 crore to Global Islami Bank. Its Modern Steel Re-Rolling owes Tk60 crore to Trust Bank, and SM Steel Re-Rolling owes Tk55 crore to LankaBangla Finance Limited.
On 12 December 2021, two factories of the group stopped production due to a lack of working capital and long-standing electricity bill arrears.
However, earlier, on 30 September, two factories of the Ratanpur Group sent a letter to the stock exchange saying they would go into production. Following the announcement, the company stock price reached a maximum of Tk38 but fell to Tk21 last week. In this way, the company took crores of money from small investors.
The Investors Forum of Chittagong Convener, MA Quader, said RSRM had cheated small investors as it did not keep its commitment of going into production.
Ratanpur Group Managing Director (MD) Maksudur Rahman, Chairman Shamsun Nahar Rahman, the managing director's two sons, Mizanur Rahman and Marjanur Rahman, his brother, Yunus Bhaiya, and the Chairman of Modern Steel Mills Limited, Md Alauddin, have been named as defendants in the case filed by the banks.
Marjanur Rahman, a director of the Ratanpur Group, did not respond to multiple calls and SMSs on 5 and 6 January.
RSRM's Company Secretary, Mohammad Moin Uddin, denied the factory was closed and declined to comment on the auction of the company's immovable assets in Bayazid.