Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The management of Sonali Bank Limited has temporally suspended its 17 officials in connection with their alleged involvement in the Hallmark Group loan scam, officials said.
The suspended officials include a deputy general manager, assistant general managers, senior executive officers, executive officers and officers. 
“The suspension orders have been issued,” a highly placed source close to the management said, adding that the bank authorities have taken the action in line with the central bank’s instruction.
The suspended officials are senior officers of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch Ujjal Kishore Dhar, Tushar Kanti Dhar, Jasmine Nahar, Mihir Chandra Mazumder, junior officer Wakiluddin Ahmed and officer Saidur Rahman, deputy general manager of international trade department Sheikh Altaf Hossain, assistant general managers Shafiz Uddin Ahmed and Ijaz Ahmed, senior executive officer Mukhlesur Rahman, executive officer Sohrab Hossain, assistant general managers of the general manager’s office Golam Nabi Malik and Ashraf Ali Patwari, senior executive officer Wahed Uddin Ahmed and deputy general manager of inspection and audit department Nessar Ahmed Chowdhury, executive officer Ekramul Mandal and branch inspector Kamrul Hossain Khan.
On August 26, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) asked the Sonali Bank managing director to temporarily suspend its 31 officials, including two deputy managing directors (DMDs), suspected of being involved in the Hallmark loan scam.
The MD has also been asked to inform the central bank by August 30 about the actions taken against the officials.
Of the accused, seven officials have already retired. They are general managers Sabita Shiraj, Nowsher Ali Khondker, Ali Hossain Khan, Md Musa and Mahbubul Huq, assistant general manager Shamim Akhter and senior executive officer Shahida Khanam.
The bank management has decided to send a letter with functional audit report for taking actions against its two DMDs and a general manager to the Ministry of Finance in this connection.
The Sonali Bank authorities have already suspended three officials from those 31 persons in line with the central bank’s instruction. Besides, the bank management has made a general manager OSD (officer on special duty).
The Sonali Bank’s latest action came following the detection of a significant amount of money embezzlement from different branches of the bank in the city.
A total of BDT 35.47 billion has been misappropriated from the bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch through forgery. Of the amount, the Hallmark Group alone managed to embezzle BDT 26.86 billion.
The central bank has also detected financial irregularities in two other branches of the bank – at Gulshan and at Agargaon – in the city.
In May 2012, a BB investigation also revealed serious irregularities by the bank in sanctioning and disbursing loans, especially to the Hallmark Group and others, and instructed the authorities concerned to take necessary actions in this regard.