Sonali Bank Limited is yet to recover a loan of Tk297 crore from Saleh Carpet Mills Ltd, a Chattogram-based company, even after 17 years of filing a case at the money loan court.
The loan was taken in 1977 by the company to set up four factories in the Bhatiari area of Sitakunda, Chattogram, on 13 acres of land.
The company performed well with its four factories – Saleh Carpet Mills, Saleh Zarina Ltd, Saleh Jute Mills and Zarina Carpet Ltd – in the first two decades, and became the largest export-oriented carpet producer in post-independence Bangladesh.
However, the decline of the company began after 2000 and all the factories of the company were closed one after another.
Currently, Sonali Bank has default loans of Tk105.40 crore to Zarina Carpet Ltd, Tk99.45 crore to Saleh Carpet Ltd, Tk62.42 crore to Saleh Jute Mills and Tk29.64 crore to Saleh Zarina Ltd.
In 2004, the Agrabad Branch of Sonali Bank filed four cases under the money loan court against the four factories of the company to recover the default loans.
In 2007, the court gave a verdict in favour of the bank against the company.
After that, the bank authorities applied to appoint a receiver for the mortgaged property of the company. It is also trying to do the same in the three other cases.
Abul Hasan Shahabuddin, lawyer of Sonali Bank, told The Business Standard, "After the verdict in four loan cases filed by Sonali Bank, another four cases are still pending. We are applying for the appointment of receivers for the mortgaged property to recover the money."
He said, "In 2006, an agreement was signed with a company called East-West Container Limited to sell the properties of Saleh Carpet. But the factory was not handed over to them as the company did not pay the total debt of Tk182 crore as per the agreement."
Currently, Saleh Carpet is owned by the heirs of Saleh Ahmad Chowdhury of Patia, Chattogram.
The managing director of the company Md Rezaul Karim Chowdhury has already died.
The directors of the company are Rabiul Karim Chowdhury, Jahanara Begum, Badrul Haque, Dilara Begum, Raushan Ara Begum, Shamim Ara Begum, Ferdousi Begum, Salehin Newaz Chowdhury, Salehin Mehrab Chowdhury and Jerin Saleh Multajin Chowdhury.
Sources say the bankrupt company also has default loans of more than Tk100 crore from Agrani Bank, Janata Bank and BDBL.
Md Manir Hossain, deputy general manager of Sonali Bank, said, "The loan was given to Saleh Carpet many years ago. Many years have also passed since the cases were filed. But the issue has not been resolved yet."
"Meanwhile, a company named East-West Limited has also paid some money to the bank to buy the mortgaged property of Saleh Carpet. It has made the case more complex. We are trying to solve the issue," he added.
Meanwhile, Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, current coordinator of Saleh Carpet Mills Ltd, declined to comment on the issue while contacted.