International Leasing and Finance Service Limited (ILFSL) Director, Prashanta Kumar Halder, is not returning to the country from Canada today (Sunday), said sources.
Although he was scheduled to return to the country today, he changed his mind following an HC order passed last week to arrest him immediately upon his return, ILFSL's lawyer, Mahafuzur Rahman Milon, informed the Attorney General's office and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) via e-mail on Saturday.
Confirming the news, ACC lawyer, Khurshid Alam Khan, informed The Business Standard, "He now resides in Canada. He cited his deteriorating health condition and Covid-19 as reasons for the sudden change of decision."
Attorney General, AM Amin Uddin, said, "Pk Halder e-mailed his lawyer, Mahafuzur Rahman Milon, informing him that he would not return to the country as scheduled. Milon informed me."
Earlier on Wednesday, an HC bench, comprising of only Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarker, passed an order instructing the relevant authorities to arrest PK Halder immediately upon his return to the country and produce him before the related court.
The court ordered the Inspector General of Police, immigration authorities and ACC to take the necessary steps to execute its order.
Until last week, his lawyers claimed that he would return on an Emirates flight at 8:10am on Sunday.
Earlier on 20 October, during a hearing over a petition seeking his safe return to the country, his lawyers told the HC that he would return in five days.
"He has already bought his ticket," they told the court.
According to sources, PK Haldar, the alleged mastermind behind one of the biggest financial scams in the nation's history, fled the country in October last year, despite an ACC travel ban.
However, he reportedly expressed his interest to return the embezzled money after ILFSL contacted him several months ago. ILFSL lawyers then filed a petition with the High Court, seeking assurances that he would not be arrested or harassed after his return.
After the hearing, the court passed its order over the petition on Wednesday, instructing authorities to arrest him immediately upon his return.
On 21 January, in response to a petition filed by several investors over siphoning off Tk3,500 crore, the HC ordered to seize bank accounts and passports of 19 accused, including ILFSL director Halder.
In a bid to save the dying financial institution, the court appointed former Bangladesh Bank Governor, Khandaker Ibrahim Khalid, as the chairman of ILFSL, but he subsequently resigned.
The ACC is investigating the allegations against PK Haldar. According to their investigation, he has embezzled at least Tk11,000 crore from various organisations and financial institutions. According to ACC sources, the amount of embezzled money may increase as the investigation progresses.
Among the institutions, he and his accomplices misappropriated around Tk3,500 crore from ILFSL, Tk2,200 crore from FAS Finance, Tk2,500 crore from Reliance Finance, and around Tk3,000 crore from People's Leasing.
It goes without saying that there is no mortgage against all this money taken in the name of loans.
As a result, the ACC says, there is almost no chance of the loans getting repaid.
PK Halder has also siphoned Tk1,000 crore to Canada, Singapore and India, the ACC investigation also revealed.
On January 8, the ACC filed a case against PK Halder over amassing Tk275 crore in illegal wealth. Investigation into that charge is currently ongoing.