Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The central bank of Bangladesh has asked the managing director (MD) of the state-owned Sonali Bank Limited to suspend temporarily 29 more officials including two deputy managing directors (DMD) suspected of being involved in the Hallmark loan scam.
“We’ve instructed the MD of the Sonali Bank to keep the officials off from day-to-day banking operations by putting them under suspension temporarily,” another BB official said.
He also said the MD of the leading state-owned commercial bank (SCB) has also been asked to inform the central bank by August 30 about actions taken against the officials.
The central bank sent a directive to the Sonali Bank’s MD in this connection on Sunday and asked him to report back to it (central bank) after taking departmental actions against all those officials. 
Besides, the MD will have to submit updated report on quarterly basis to the department concerned of the central bank, according to the directive.
The branch level of bank did not follow the banking rules while sanctioning and disbursing the loans, the BB said in its directive, adding that the branch had disbursed the large amount of loans to the clients by taking advantage of the lax supervision by the principal and general manager’s offices and the head office of the bank.
The central bank also directed the MD for taking legal actions against the officials allegedly involved in the loan scam at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel-branch of the bank in line with the audit report.
The Sonali Bank appointed Syful Shamsul Alam and Co, a chartered accountant and consultancy firm in June last, to prepare a functional audit report and find out those responsible for the irregularities.
The firm has already submitted its report and forwarded a copy of it to the central bank, the BB officials added.
A sum of BDT 35.47 billion has been embezzled from the Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch through forgery, according to the BB’s investigation report.
According to the audit report, as of May 31 last, the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel-branch of the bank had disbursed Tk 36.06 billion as loan to Hallmark Group and other entities ignoring banking rules and regulations.
The audit team identified a total of 32 officials including the former managing director of the bank who were involved in the loan scam.
The Sonali Bank authorities have already suspended two officials from those 32 in line with the central bank instruction.
In May 2012, a BB investigation also revealed massive irregularities by the bank in sanctioning and disbursing of loans, especially to Hallmark Group and others, and instructed it to take necessary actions.
BBN/SSR/AD-27Aug12-10:30 am (BST)