In 2012, Janata Bank issued a loan guarantee of Tk 243 crore to Mashreq Bank for Beximco Group on condition that the local business giant will use three-fourth of the amount, or about Tk 182 crore, to repay the money it owed to the state-run lender.
But, Beximco did not pay a single penny to Janata, and in so doing, has left a Tk 1,850 crore-sized hole in the lender's books, according to the audit report of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Furthermore, it allowed Beximco to withdraw nearly Tk 52 crore of its export receipts -- instead of adjusting it with the amount outstanding.
And, Janata's management did not take any legal or financial action against Beximco for this instance of unlawful fund diversion; it only issued a reminder to repay the loan, according to a senior executive of the bank.
When asked about the loan diversion, Abdus Salam, managing director of Janata, said: “It is a sensitive issue.”
Janata's leniency towards Beximco does not end there. It restructured Tk 1,850 crore of Beximco's loans under the large loan restructuring facility introduced by the central bank in 2015.
The CAG objected to the Bangladesh Bank's approval in the restructuring of the loan, said the report on the audit conducted of the central bank in February.
Despite knowing about the serious irregularities, the BB did not take any legal action; rather, it allowed rescheduling of the loan, it said.
SK Sur Chowdhury, a deputy governor of the BB, defended the loan restructuring approval, saying the loan was restructured as per policy. He, however, declined to comment on the objection raised by the CAG.
The loans that are diverted cannot be recovered, he said at a workshop at the Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka on August 26.
Beximco Group did not reply to an email seeking comments on the CAG's observations on the diversion of Janata's foreign loan guarantee to Mashreq Bank. In response to another email, it said: “We have not defaulted on any of the restructured loans.”
The group said that the CAG has cleared the audit objection. A clearance letter of the CAG was also attached with the e-mail. The letter said that the issue was resolved as the payment of the loan was regular.
The objection was settled as the party diverted the fund upon consent from Janata Bank, said a senior officer of the CAG. An executive of the bank said the fund was allowed to be diverted in order to help the client carry out its business activities. In January 2015, the BB introduced the large loan restructuring facility following the demand from Beximco.
Under the policy, 11 business groups have had their loans of Tk 15,000 crore restructured. Janata alone restructured loans more than Tk 5,000 crore.