The Supreme Court (SC) of Bangladesh on Thursday upheld a High Court (HC) verdict asking the government to return some Tk 615 crore, seized during the emergency rule after the controversial “One-Eleven” takeover in 2007, to 16 companies.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha delivered the verdict dismissing 11 appeals filed by Bangladesh Bank challenging the HC order.
Adv Ahsanul Karim, a counsel for nine of the 16 companies, said by when the money is to be returned will be known only after the release of the full text of the verdict.
Talking to reporters, Khairul Alam said according to the central bank, over Tk 1,200 crore had been taken from some businessmen and individuals during the emergency rule in 2007-08.
Replying to a question, Ahsanul said it is confusing whether the other companies from whom the government had realised the money during the emergency period can get their money back as the writ petitions, if they file, may not be acceptable due to a long delay since the incident.
On January 11 in 2007, the military-installed an interim government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, which took office by ousting the then President Iajuddin Ahmed-led caretaker administration.
During the two-year emergency period, many businessmen and politicians were arrested in a crackdown against ‘corruption.’
Between April 2007 and November 2008, a huge amount of money was confiscated from almost 40 businessmen and organisations and kept with the Bangladesh Bank.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith told Parliament in 2010 that the funds confiscated during the emergency regime was almost Tk 1,232.
According to the SC, the officials of an intelligence agency collected the money from nearly 40 businessmen and business houses and deposited the money in the Bangladesh Bank through over 200 pay orders.
The business conglomerates include seven organisations of S Alam Group (Tk 60cr), Consolidated Tea & Lands (Bangladesh) Company Ltd and Baraura Tea Company Ltd (Tk 230.65cr), Meghna Cement Ltd (Tk 52r), Bashundhara Paper Mills and East West Property (15cr), a Director of East West Property Development (Tk 189cr), Unique Easter (Pvt) Ltd ( Tk 90 lakh), Unique Ceramic Industries Ltd (Tk 70 lakh), Unique Hotel and Resorts Ltd (Tk 17.55cr), Borak Real State Pvt Ltd (Tk 7.10cr), Eastern Housing Ltd (Tk 35cr) and Noor Ali, owner of Unique Vocational Training Centre, (Tk 65 lakh).
The companies also include Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (Tk 19.45cr), Arab Bangladesh (AB) Bank (Tk 190cr), AB Bank Foundation (Tk 32cr), Amin Mohammad Foundation Ltd (Tk 32.50cr), Jamuna Group Ltd (Tk 30cr), MGH Group (Tk 24cr) and Elite Paint (Tk 25.44cr).
Money was also collected from National Bank Ltd (Tk 39cr), Kabir Steel Mills (Tk 7cr), Concord Real Estate Ltd (Tk 7cr), Concord Engineering Group (Tk 8cr), Pink City (Tk 6.41cr), Swadesh Properties Ltd (Tk 9cr), Asian City (Tk 1cr), Sagufta Housing (Tk 2.50cr), Hosaf Group Ltd (Tk 15cr), Partex Group (Tk 15cr) and Islam Group (Tk 35cr).
Businessman Abdul Awal Mintoo (Tk 2.20cr), Rezaul Karim (Tk 17cr), Abu Sufian (Tk 14cr), Shawkat Ali Chowdhury (Tk 6cr), former State Minister Lutfozzaman Babar (Tk 15cr), ex-MP Salimul Haque Kamal (Tk 20cr), Wakil Ahmed (Tk 16cr), Giasuddin Al Mamun (Tk 20.41cr), Ex-National Bank Chairman Parveen Haque Sikder (Tk 3cr) were among the individuals.
The businessmen filed separate writ petitions seeking the refund of the money after Awami League came to power.
The BB filed the appeals with the SC after the Appellate Division of the apex court allowed it to file the appeal on August 2 in 2105.
Barristers Rokon Uddin Mahmud, Khairul Alam, Shafique Ahmed, Yusuf Hossain Humayun, Ahsanul Kabir and MA Hannan, among others, argued for the business establishments while Barrister M Amir-ul Islam stood for Bangladesh Bank and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the state during the hearing.