With BASIC Bank recently filing a Tk170 crore case against Rising Group's sister concern Confidence Shoes Limited, the group's default loans at 19 banks and non-bank financial institutions have stood at around Tk2,000 crore.
The banks and non-bank financial institutions have so far filed 30 cases against the group's owners to recover the loans. But the recovery has become uncertain as Aslam Chowdhury, the group's main owner and joint secretary general of the BNP, remains in jail and most of the sister concerns have been closed.
BASIC Bank's Agrabad branch filed the Tk170 crore case on 10 February against Confidence Shoes, its Managing Director and Aslam's brother Md Amzad Hossain Chowdhury, Chairman and Aslam's wife Jamila Naznil Mawla, Aslam's another brother Md Jasim Uddin Chowdhury, Amzad's wife Ismat Jahan, and Shahriar Hossain Chowdhury, a family member.
From 2012 to 2014, Confidence Shoes took out loans from BASIC Bank to import raw materials and factory machinery. Its owners did not repay the loans even though they were supposed to do so in instalments after a one-year grace period.
Even after applying for loan rescheduling in 2017 and 2019 under the special scheme announced by the Bangladesh Bank, the company did not make the down payment.
Apart from Confidence Shoes, Seven B Associates, another concern of Rising Group, owes Tk192.48 crore to BASIC Bank. The bank's Agrabad branch filed an artha rin (loan) suit on 25 November 2019 to recover the loan.
The bank has only 422 decimals of land as mortgage against the Tk170 crore loan and the land price is much lower than the loan amount
Faisal Shah Qureshi, deputy general manager at the bank's Agrabad branch and also the branch in-charge, said the bank has only 422 decimals of land as mortgage against the Tk170 crore loan and the land price is much lower than the loan amount.
Amzad could not be reached for comment on the phone despite repeated attempts.
Rising Group lawyer Nasima Akhter Chowdhury said cases had been filed one after another against Aslam and his family members as part of political revenge.
An emerging industrial group is now in this situation due to non-cooperation of the non-bank financial institutions and service providers concerned, she said.
She further said Aslam, Amzad, Jasim, and Jamila had already been granted bail by the High Court in the 30 cases and their bail had been extended several times.
The four received bail in different times since 2018 on the condition of repaying or settling the loans within six months. But the banks say they did not repay or settle any of the loans.
Sanwar Ahmed Lavlu, special public prosecutor at Chattogram Divisional Special Judge's Court, said the four had also been asked to submit their passports.
"Even after two years of getting bail, they have not settled any of the loans. Moreover, they have gone into hiding, except for Aslam."
Even after two years of getting bail, they have not settled any of the loans. Moreover, they have gone into hiding, except for Aslam. Previously, the four had also been asked to submit their passports.
Despite Aslam's bail, he remains in prison since 15 May 2016 in a sedition case. He was also accused in around 20 political cases filed over sabotage and vandalism charges.
Since Aslam's imprisonment, Amzad has been running the group's businesses. As the businesses began defaulting one after another in 2013, he took out bank loans with the help of relatives but still could not succeed.
Banks filed lawsuits under the Negotiable Instruments Act and also with the Artha Rin Adalat against the group's owners. By 2015, all the companies of the group were almost closed.
Amzad then set up companies in the name of his relatives after banks stopped providing loans. He borrowed Tk250 crore in the name of Mass Ship Recycling Industries from three banks with the help of his nephew Sarwar Hossain, niece's husband Minhazul Hasan, and brother-in-law Shahidul Haque.
Mass Ship Recycling borrowed Tk115 crore from Farmers Bank's (now Padma Bank) Khatunganj branch in 2015, Tk112 crore from AB Bank's Agrabad branch in 2014, and Tk15 crore from IFIC Bank's Alongkar Intersection branch.
Although the loans were taken out to import old ships, Amzad himself used the money. The loans have not been repaid yet.
Moreover, in late 2016, the Chattogram office of the Anti-Corruption Commission filed two cases against Aslam, Jamila, Amzad, and Jasim on charges of embezzling around Tk500 crore from AB Bank and Southeast Bank.
The commission said chargesheets had been submitted in both cases but trials had not begun yet.
Rising Group and Seven B Associates were once well-known businesses in Chattogram and their main business is shipbreaking. Rising Group was in number 19, and Seven B Associates in 36, on the list of defaulters presented by the finance minister in parliament in 2019.