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Bangladesh writes to India for PK Halder details, but does not expect extradition now

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2022-05-16 20:15:39 BdST

The Bangladesh chapter of Interpol has written to its Indian counterpart for details of the arrest of scamster Proshanta Kumar Halder, but Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen does not expect his extradition anytime soon.

The Anti-Corruption Commission says it will explore all legal options to bring Halder back and make him face justice while the news of his arrest caused shares of two financial institutions Halder controlled to rise sharply amid a downfall of stocks.

Mohiul Islam, an assistant inspector general at the National Central Bureau, said on Monday India did not contact them on the arrest of Halder. The NCB sent a letter to India on Sunday, but did not get a response until Monday.

The Interpol issued a red notice against Halder, the Police Headquarters said in January 2021, but the 63 Bangladeshis on the list on Interpol’s website do not include Halder.

Mohiul said Interpol indeed published a red notice against Halder on Jan 8, 2021 and it is still effective but the international agency closed the option for public view. Law-enforcing and immigration agencies can view the notice.

The NCB is trying to know whether India made the arrest following the Interpol notice, according to Mohiul.

He said the NCB had written to Canada earlier after media reports suggested he had been hiding there, but has not heard back.

The Enforcement Directorate of India said it raided properties bought by Halder and his associates by using fake Indian identities on Friday. On Saturday, the Indian media reported Halder and five of his associates were arrested.

Officials in Bangladesh confirmed the information, but they did not get any details through formal channels.

Halder is a former managing director of the International Leasing and Financial Services Limited or ILFSL and NRB Global Bank. He is accused of embezzling tens of billions of taka after taking control of four financial institutions, in which he placed his close associates in positions of power after purchasing large shares.

These institutions lent billions of takas to fake companies opened by Halder and his associates, according to the charges brought by the ACC, which traced at least 20 such firms.

The four financial institutions under Halder’s control were Peoples Leasing and Financial Services or PLFSL, International Leasing and Financial Services o ILFSL, FAS Finance and Investment Limited, and Bangladesh Industrial Finance Company. Top officials of these institutions are among those prosecuted by the ACC.

The entities that Halder controlled have been struggling for survival for several years, hit heavily by default loans, a lack of capital and a failure to repay investors.

But the news of Halder’s arrest triggered hopes of recovery of the funds, sending shares of FAS and ILFSL among the top gainers on the Dhaka Stock Exchange on Monday, the first trading day since the latest development in India.

FAS and ILFSL shares hit the circuit breaker at one stage of trading as the number of willing customers exceeded the number of sellers by far.

FAS shares increased by 9.8 percent to Tk 5.6 while the ILFSL rose by 9 percent to Tk 6. The volume of FAS shares traded on the DSE on Monday increased fourteenfold to 4.1 million while 945,000 ILFSL shares changed hands, up from 75,000 on Thursday.

The key index DSEX, however, fell by 2.05 percent to 6431.

TRIAL IN INDIA FIRST?

Foreign Minister Momen faced questions from reporters on whether the extradition treaty with India will be used to bring Halder back. “We'll follow the procedure,” he replied.

“First, the India government will inform us about the arrest and may sentence him to jail. Maybe they [India] will tell us that he'll serve the jail term here [in Bangladesh]. We do this to other countries, they will also do this to us.”

Bangladesh handed Anup Chetia, leader of India’s separatist group the United Liberation Front of Asom, to India in 2015 after he served a jail term in Bangladesh. “Maybe the same procedure will be followed now,” Momen said, adding that the law ministry better knows the details of the process.

He hopes India will prioritise the extradition of Halder considering Bangladesh’s interests. “As we're enjoying a golden chapter of ties, I hope they'll listen to us.”

Sayeed Mahbub Khan, acting secretary to theACC, said the Interpol acted fast at the request of the national anti-graft agency.

The commission held a meeting on Monday morning and decided to contact the Bangladesh Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the home ministry, and the Bangladesh High Commission in India.

They will be asked to communicate with the Indian authorities as part of efforts to bring Halder back and recover the funds he has siphoned off, Sayeed said.

“We knew about some of the properties [of Halder] in India. We're learning about more,” he said.