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Monday, October 5, 2015, Aswin 20, 1422 BS, Zilhaj 20, 1436 Hijr

Inordinately Rich Obaidul Karim - Part 2
Tk 1000cr industry bought for Tk 7cr !
Jibon Islam
Published :Monday, 5 October, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 42

Kohinoor Chemical Company (Bangladesh) Limited is a quality cosmetics manufacturing company in the country. Being a maker of highly popular brands, it makes lofty profits every year. It is not understood why this profitable state-owned enterprise (SoE) was sold out at only Tk 7 crore, wondered some officials at the Privatisation Commission.
Such uneven divestment was made in on August 3, 1993. For reasons unknown, the Privatisation Commission handed over this profitable SoE to Orion Group at a throwaway price. At that time the price of Kohinoor Chemical was fixed at Tk 60 crore. But the commission so far got only Tk 7.97 crore.  Now 22 years have passed, not a single farthing more is received from the purchaser by the commission, who usually divests the loss-making SoEs.
However, the Orion Group has resorted to a cunning tactics to skip paying the rest of the money Kohinoor Chemical was bought for. The Group filed suits in the court. As the case prolongs for Orion's dilly-dally, the money remains unrealized. But in the meantime, the Orion is making brisk business by selling the Kohinoor products.
When the enterprise was sold out to the Orion Group during the BNP regime, no explanation was shown as to why the profitable SoE was divested. Even when Awami League-led combine is in power, the commission officials could not point to any reason.
At the time of Kohinoor's divestment, its manpower was 888-strong, which has now reduced to 350. The company posts a Tk 12-15 profit a year. Accordingly, in the last 22 years, Orion Group made a Tk 330 crore profit from Kohinoor Chemical. By this time, the amount of net payable money with interest by Orion Group to the Privatisation Commission stood at Tk 108.71 crore in 2013.
After assuming power, the present government has taken initiative to speed up disposal of the court cases filed by the Orion Group against the Privatisation Commission. As a measure the commission appointed prudent and experienced lawyers and subsequently it won the legal battle against the Orion Group. In its verdict, the court ordered Orion Group to pay all dues to the Privatisation Commission.
But instead of paying the money as per High Court order, the Orion Group filed appeal before the Supreme Court to prolong the payment.  The petition is pending before the court and the Orion Group continues to mint money from Kohinoor.
Kohinoor Chemical Company is located on an area of over 4.65 acres of land. According to the official estimate, the value of this land would not be less than Tk 76.73 crore. So, without paying the commission's dues, the Orion Group has long been occupying huge government properties by adopting various dubious means.
Kohinoor is manufacturing quality cosmetics, toiletries and personal care products from the best imported materials, which are in high demand in the market. Tibet, 570 soap and Balaka blade are some of the popular Kohinoor products, both in urban and rural areas.
When his attention was drawn to such irregularities, Salman Karim, Orion's Managing Director and son of Obaidul Karim, declined to make any comment.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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