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Court defers verdict in ex-Chief Justice Sinha graft case again

  • Court Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-10-21 11:34:53 BdST

A Dhaka court has, once again, deferred its verdict on a case against former Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and 10 others over embezzlement of Tk 40 million in credit from The Farmers Bank.

Judge Sheikh Nazmul Alam of the Special Judge's Court-4 was scheduled to deliver the verdict on the corruption case on Thursday. But, instead, the judge deferred the decision to Nov 9.

“The verdict is not ready yet,” said Public Prosecutor Mir Ahmed Ali Salam. “So the judge has set a new date.”

Lawyer Shahinur Islam, one of the lawyers in the defence team, said that bail would be extended for the six defendants who had secured it. 

The verdict in the case was initially scheduled for Oct 5, but was delayed due to the judge’s leave at the time.

The acting judge of the court at the time then set Oct 21 for the verdict.

Alam set Oct 5 for delivering the judgement after closing arguments in the case on Sep 14.

ACC Director Syed Iqbal Hossain initiated the case against the 11 suspects in 2019.

The other accused are – KM Shamim, former managing director of Farmers Bank, renamed Padma Bank, its former senior executive vice president Gazi Salauddin, first vice president Swapon Kumar Ray, senior vice president Md Ziauddin Ahmed, first vice president Shafiuddin Askary, vice president Md Lutful Haque, Tangail residents Md Shahjahan, Niranjan Chandra Saha, Ranajit Chandra Saha and his wife Shanti Ray.

In October 2018, the ACC said it had found ‘evidence’ of fraud involving transactions of Tk 40 million borrowed by two so-called businessmen, Shahjahan and Niranjan, from Farmers Bank.

The national antigraft agency later launched an investigation into allegations that the fund was deposited in Sinha’s bank account, credited as the proceeds of the sale of his house.

Sinha came under fire from the ruling Awami League over his decision to scrap the 16th amendment to the constitution and left the country on leave in October 2017.

Later, he became the first chief justice of the country to quit when he submitted his resignation from overseas, 81 days before the end of his term.

After his resignation, the Supreme Court said in a rare statement that Sinha had been facing 11 specific charges, including corruption, money laundering, financial irregularities and moral blunder.

The government has appealed for a review of the verdict scrapping the 16th constitutional amendment, which allows the MPs to remove any top judge on grounds of incompetency or misconduct.

THE ACC CASE

The graft-busters have brought charges against Sinha and others under the Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Money Laundering Prevention Act.

According to the case documents, Shahjahan and Niranjan opened separate accounts in the bank’s Gulshan branch on Nov 6, 2016, and applied for Tk 20 million in loans each on the following day.

They used the address of a building owned by Sinha in Dhaka’s Uttara to open the accounts and apply for the loans.

The duo also mentioned a 32 decimal piece of land owned by Ranajit’s wife Shanti as the property against which they sought the loans.

The couple were acquaintances of Sinha and close to him, according to the case. Ranajit is Niranjan’s uncle and Shahjahan’s friend, the ACC says.

The ACC alleges that Shamim, then managing director of the bank, approved the loans without any scrutiny in breach of its rules and by abusing powers.

The loans had been approved “abnormally fast”, a day after the applications were filed on Nov 7 that year.

Two pay orders worth Tk 40 million were issued for Sinha and money was deposited to his account in Sonali Bank’s Supreme Court branch on Nov 9.