The High Court on Monday vented anger on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for not arresting former deputy governor of the Bangladesh Bank SK Sur Chowdhury and executive director Shah Alam despite their links with Prasanta Kumar Halder, the alleged mastermind of several financial scams.
The court directed the anti-graft watchdog to inform it by 6 April what action has been taken against SK Sur Chowdhury, Shah Alam and those named in confessional statements. At the same time, the ACC was asked to inform the court about the steps it took regarding Prasanta Kumar Halder's travel ban.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim passed the orders and fixed 6 April for the next order.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan moved for the ACC, while Deputy Attorney General AKM Aminuddin Manik represented the state. Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam and Khan Mohammad Shamim Aziz represented the Bangladesh Bank.
Addressing the ACC lawyer, the court said, "What actions have you taken against SK Sur Chowdhury and Shah Alam? Why are you not arresting them? Tell us if you are unable to do so. Then we will pass the order accordingly."
The court told the ACC that such people could not be invited and entertained.
The court directed the ACC to file a written statement in the wake of contradictory statements by the ACC and police's Special Branch on the escape of Prasanta Kumar Halder alias PK Halder – who is reportedly staying in Canada now.
"We want to find out who was negligent as PK Halder managed to flee the country," the High Court said.
The Special Branch of police sent a list of 59 immigration police personnel who were on duty at Benapole border on the day PK Halder fled to India to the Police Headquarters. The inspector general of police (IGP) submitted the report to the High Court.
Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik presented the report before the court.
Citing the report, the state counsel told the court that the ACC mailed the travel ban to Benapole immigration police on 23 October 2019 at 5:47pm. But, PK Halder had crossed the border at 3:38 pm.
The deputy attorney general said the ACC could have called the immigration police, but it did not. "PK Halder might have been warned while the ACC was preparing the letter imposing the travel ban. We think the ACC was negligent."
Strongly opposing the state's statement, the ACC lawyer argued that the commission did not have any negligence.
"I am not blaming other public agencies. The ACC received the complaint against PK Halder on 28 October. Earlier, there were no charges against him. The ACC sent a letter to the special branch on its own," he claimed.
Then the court asked the ACC to submit a written report as the special branch had submitted its statement on the escape. "We want to find out who is negligent here," said the High Court.
On 15 February, the HC expressed dissatisfaction over PK Halder's escape despite the arrest and passport seizure orders.
The court directed the home ministry and the IGP to submit the list of immigration personnel who were on duty at the port when PK Halder left the country.
Besides, the court sought the employee list working at three departments of the central bank from 2008 to 2020, and wanted to know what steps have been taken against the officials involved in embezzlement and money laundering.
Complying with the order, the Bangladesh Bank submitted the details of 354 staffers to the court.
The list includes 129 staffers of the Department of Financial Institutions and Markets, 50 of the Financial Institution Inspection Department and 175 officers of the Internal Audit Department of the Bangladesh Bank.
But the central bank could not submit the report on central bank officials who were involved in embezzlement and money laundering from various financial institutions.
During the hearing, Bangladesh Bank lawyer Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam said the court would not be able to find out the officials involved in various scams unless the central bank traces them first and then informs the court.
He said the central bank needs time for the scrutiny, and the HC granted the banking watchdog seven weeks for the list.
During the hearing, the HC asked Tanjib-ul Alam who was the governor of the central bank when the scams took place at four financial institutions including People's Leasing and International Leasing.