Premier Property Limited took a Tk 2 billion loan from the Banani branch of National Bank, and kept the amount under the fixed deposit scheme of a personal bank, according to an inspection report of Bangladesh Bank.
Premier Bank chairman and former Awami League member of parliament HBM Iqbal is the guarantor of the loan.
Directors of Premier Property are his two sons – Mohammad Imran Iqbal and Moin Iqbal – his daughter Nawrin Iqbal, and her husband Jamal Zia Ahmed.
Although the loan was an overdraft, the entire amount was withdrawn in one go. Within a week of the approval, Tk 1.85 billion deposited as fixed deposit in the Banani branch of Premier Bank. Imran Iqbal is also a director of Premier Bank.
And Tk 43.5 million was transferred to the account of ICB Power Limited owned by HBM Iqbal. The rest of the money is untraced, according to the central bank inspection.
None of the directors of the Premier Property was found available for comment.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, the personal guarantor of the loan HBM Iqbal said the loan was being used regularly, even encashing the FDR.
“There are no irregularities. We have replied to a letter of the National Bank, informing them everything is all right.”
According to National Bank and Bangladesh Bank, on 21 December 2016, the board of National Bank approved the loan. In a space of seven days, on 27 December 2016, Tk 1 billion was withdrawn from the Banani branch.
The central bank reports said an overdraft was given in favour of Premier Property. National Bank remained silent when the money was spent for other projects, Bangladesh Bank reports added.
Following Bangladesh Bank instructions, National Bank told the directors of Premier Property to return the money.
The directors said they would return money in phases.
On 7 August, National Bank in a letter requested Bangladesh Bank to review the decision.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, deputy managing director of National Bank ASM Bulbul said, “We will take a step to recover the loan if the central bank rejects our request.”
Speaking to Prothom Alo, former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled said this is unethical on the part of the private bank owners. Bangladesh Bank has to be serious in handling such cases, he added.
HBM Iqbal and his family members came to limelight at various occasions.
In 2008, a special court convicted HBM Iqbal, his wife Mamtaz Begum, two sons and the daughter in a corruption case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
A murder case was filed against Iqbal as he allegedly killed four people by firing during a general strike on a procession of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on 13 February 2001.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam