The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has issued a warning to five Islamic banks facing liquidity challenges, directing them to rectify negative balances in their current accounts within a 20-working-day timeframe. The spokesperson for Bangladesh Bank, Md Mezbaul Haque, confirmed this development during a press conference on Sunday. The warning letters were dispatched to Islamic Bank Bangladesh PLC, Social Islami Bank Limited, Union Bank PLC, First Security Islami Bank PLC, and Global Islami Bank PLC.
Haque clarified that the warning does not signify a decision to cancel money payment services, emphasizing that the ultimate decision lies with the Payment Systems Department despite the initiation of communication by the central bank’s Motijheel office. Liquidity issues in these banks have arisen from structural problems in Islamic banking, prompting the central bank’s proactive response.
Addressing the immediate focus of Bangladesh Bank, Haque stated, “The main goal of the central bank at this moment is to control inflation. Once we alleviate external pressure, the Bangladesh Bank will shift its focus to the governance of banks facing crises.”
The Payment Systems Department holds the authority to decide on the continuation of transactions with other banks if the deficit in the current accounts is not resolved within the specified 20 working days. Haque disclosed that ICB Islamic Bank Limited had previously received Tk700 crore in support. While the Bangladesh Bank routinely provides assistance to banks with negative current account balances, the warning letters dated 28 November explicitly instruct the banks to promptly adjust their negative balances.
The letter from the Motijheel office of Bangladesh Bank highlighted the prolonged negative current account balances, stating, “Although the matter has been brought to your attention repeatedly, you have not taken any significant steps so far.” It advised the banks to address the negative balance within 20 working days, warning that failure to do so would result in being barred from any clearing platform as per the contract signed with the Payment Systems Department.
Top Bank Executives Ordered to Address Currency Exchange Scandal
The Bangladesh Bank has issued orders to the top executives of nine commercial banks, instructing them to transfer officials allegedly involved in foreign currency exchange irregularities at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. In a Thursday meeting, Deputy Governor Kazi Sayedur Rahman cautioned CEOs against the recurrence of such incidents, urging heightened oversight and security measures at airport booths.
Bangladeshi expatriate workers and travelers typically convert foreign currencies to Taka at bank booths and money exchangers upon returning to Bangladesh. However, some officials were found to be involved in exchanging foreign currencies directly without issuing proper vouchers or with fake vouchers, a practice considered money laundering.
The implicated banks include state-run Sonali, Janata, Agrani, and Probashi Kallyan, along with five private banks: Pubali, Jamuna, City, Mutual Trust, and Standard. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) verified the allegations following a formal complaint, conducting a raid and investigation at Shahjalal Airport on Monday.
ACC officials discovered that foreign currency arriving at Shahjalal Airport, meant to be deposited through the banking channel, was being manipulated by unscrupulous officials. Some were purchasing dollars and selling them in the open market without proper documentation, and in certain cases, currencies were being smuggled abroad.
In-bound passengers frequently exchange US dollars, euros, riyals, ringgits, pounds, and dinars at the airport, according to ACC officials. The central bank’s directive aims to curb malpractices and ensure the proper handling of foreign currency transactions at the airport.
Cenbank Grants Approval to 8 Additional CA Firms for Auditing
Following a thorough assessment of appeals from various audit firms in alignment with the enlistment policy, Bangladesh Bank (BB) has opted to augment the existing roster by incorporating eight additional chartered accountant (CA) firms.
With this recent inclusion, a total of 39 audit firms now meet the criteria for auditing banks and finance companies, according to a circular issued by BB today.
This circular has been disseminated by Bangladesh Bank, exercising its authority as stipulated under section-39(1) of the Bank Company Act, 1991 (Amended up to 2023) and section-37(1) of the Finance Company Act, 2023.
As per the circular, a single firm is permitted to audit a maximum of six banks and finance companies within a financial year.
The enlisted audit firms (Chartered Accountants) are: Qasem & Co; Wahab & Co; ACNABIN; Ahmed Zaker & Co; Ahsan Manzur & Co; Anil Salam Idris & Co; Arun & Company; Aziz Halim Khair Choudhury; Basu Banerjee Nath & Co; Chowdhury Bhattacharjee & Co; Das Chowdhury Dutta & Co; Dewan Nazrul Islam & Co; G Kibria & Co; Hoda Vasi Chowdhury & Co; Hoque Bhattacharjee Das & Co; Howladar Yunus & Co; Hussain Farhad & Co; Islam Aftab Kamrul & Co; Islam Jahid & Co; K M Alam & Co; Kazi Zahir Khan & Co; Khan Wahab Shafique Rahman & Co; M J Abedin & Co; M M Rahman & Co; M Z Islam & Co; MABS & J Partners; Mahamud Sabuj & Co; Mahfel Huq & Co; Malek Siddiqui Wali; Masih Muhith Haque & Co; MRH Dey & Co; Nurul Faruk Hasan & Co; Pinaki & Company; Rahman Rahman Huq (KPMG); S. K. Barua & Co; Shafiq Basak & Co; Snehasish Mahmud & Co; Syful Shamsul Alam & Co; Zoha Zaman Kabir Rashid & Co.
Cenbank Unveils Roadmap to Slash Default Loans Below 8% by 2026
The Bangladesh Bank has unveiled a roadmap aiming to reduce default loans to below 8% by June 2026. As of September last year, default loans in the banking sector amounted to Tk1.55 lakh crore, approximately 10% of the total outstanding, according to Bangladesh Bank data.
he new roadmap is in line with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions as part of a $4.7 billion loan package. It emphasizes the pivotal role of shareholder directors and managing directors in the recovery process. Furthermore, the central bank has modified the loan write-off policy, allowing banks to write off loans in two years instead of the previous three, potentially reducing default loans by 2.76%, equivalent to Tk43,300 crore.
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