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Saturday, October 3, 2015, Aswin 18, 1422 BS, Zilhaj 18, 1436 Hijr

Inordinately Rich Obaidul Karim-Part I
Tk 600 cr embezzled from Oriental Bank
Our Staff Correspondent Jibon Islam has investigated in- depth into the facts how Obaidul Karim, an industrialist, grew up from rags to riches through massive corruptions and irregular means. The first part of our story is published today.
Published :Saturday, 3 October, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 32

Managing director, directors and a section of officers and employees of Oriental Bank, in a nexus with the Orion Group, have embezzled Tk 595 crore fund of the bank (former Al-Baraka Bank and the incumbent ICB Islami Bank).
Such big misappropriation of money, first of its kind in the country, was done in the bank's Karwan Bazar, Nawabpur, Motijheel and other two branches through fake documents during 2003-2006, according to an investgation by the central bank.
The scam was exposed during investigations when Oriental Bank came under the control of Bangladesh Bank on June 19 in 2006.
Banking sector people alleged that such a financial scandal occurred during the five-year tenure of Rafiul Alam, former General Manager of the Strengthening Project of Bangladesh Bank who served as a director of Oriental Bank on deputation.
The central bank's Strengthening Project's function is to take up short-term and long-term task force to discipline any financial irregularities by any bank.
Alam is said to be a close relative of Moulana AKM Yousuf, former Nayeb-e-Amir of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.
During his tenure as director of the private sector bank,  22 meetings of the Board of Directors were held where no agenda of this huge embezzlement of the bank money came up for discussion.
The central bank probe found that the bank money was withdrawn by white paper while Karwan Bazar branch manager Ashraf Ali went to hideout taking those white papers with him. But the forgery has been detected as the photocopies of those white papers were under the possession of the Bangladesh Bank.
A lion's share of the embezzled money was encashed in the name of One Denim Mills and One Entertainment owned by Gias Uddin Al-Mamun, a close friend and business partner of Begum Khaleda Zia's son BNP leader Tarique Rahman. Two officers of the administrative wing of the Orion Group, Nazia Akhter and Siddiqua, signed most of those white papers. Under their signatures many pay orders and cash were also deposited.
Orion Group received those pay orders that were deposited in the names of One Denim Mills, One Entertainment and Agrobirds.  Obaidul Karim is the proprietor of Orion Group who allegedly misappropriated those huge amount of money by fake vouchers of inter-branch transactions and showing artificial sources and deposits.  
The ownership of the Oriental Bank came under the Orion Group in November, 2004. Previously, Abul Khair Litu, a leading businessman, was the owner of this bank. During Litu's ownership, the bank's default loan stood at Taka 143 crore. To recover the money, the bank lodged cases with the High Court, which is still pending. Bank owner Obaidul Karim, Managing Director CM Kayes Samy and other 25 officers and employees are in the list of the accused in the money embezzlement.
Bangladesh Bank applied to the government to keep Oriental's activities under suspension under Section 77 of the Bank Company Act, 1991. However, the bank was not closed down then at the interference of the bank's interim administrator,   Mohammad Asaduzzaman, also an Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank.
The bank first started operation as Al-Baraka Bank in 1987. This bank was earmarked as 'problematic bank' in 1994. The Orion Group and its sister organizations bought 83 per cent of the bank stakes and began functioning as a scheduled commercial bank under a new name, Oriental Bank, in 2004.
When asked about the allegations, Salman Karim, Managing Director of Orion Group and son of Obaidul Karim, declined to make any comment. "I feel disturbed," he told this Correspondent.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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