Sunday, July 20, 2008

BCKS Rejoinder, our reply

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Bangladesh Chashi Kalyan Samity (BCKS) in a rejoinder protested a report headlined "Five lakh depositors swindled by Jamaat's farmer wing" published in The Daily Star on July 7.

It said BCKS considers the report "a malicious attempt to spread venom against a political party which has clean image amongst people and has no working relationship with BCKS".

It claimed BCKS to be a "non-political" and "non-profit" organisation for farmers' welfare and said it is not true that BCKS acted as financial front of Jamaat through illegal banking.

It claimed that central BCKS did not decided on closing down branches and the allegation of selling offices was irrelevant.

The rejoinder contradicted that Tk 100 crore was swindled out of five lakh people. It said they now have Tk 4,23,81,920 unpaid savings of 32,370 people and Tk 5,06,81,689 distributed loans among 12,832 people in 14 districts.

The rejoinder, however, confirmed "some irregularities" in Rajshahi district that they explained to have occurred following misappropriation of about Tk 12.40 lakh of people's savings by its staff.

It said legal actions for the misappropriation are under process while one case filed in 2006 is still pending. It said BCKS is trying to realise the embezzled money through arbitration.

Meanwhile, The Daily Star received two copies of the same rejoinder that were carrying signatures of two separate persons claiming to be BCKS public relations officer.

The forwarding letters show BCKS's central office at two places in Dhaka. The web address given has not been found.

Our story was based on documents and mainly interviews of a number of senior BCKS officials, dissident ones and responsible Jamaat leaders.

Jamaat's link with BCKS is clearly evident as acting Jamaat Ameer Maulana Abul Kalam Muhammad Yousuf is its head since Liberation War period while local Jamaat unit presidents are regularly made BCKS advisers. BCKS presidents at branch levels are almost always chosen from high level Jamaat members (Rokon).

In our story, it is Jamaat men who described how BCKS collected money from people irrespective of profession, despite BCKS's professed status being meant only for farmers.

BCKS branch staffs, who were trying to buy the branches, provided the contents on which The Daily Star report is based.

The Daily Star has documents that prove BCKS has control of credit programmes at branch levels and that it decided to shut down and sell a number of branches. The Daily Star also has documents that prove BCKS central oversaw the selling of branches. The documents are also supported by people The Daily Star interviewed.

BCKS defended the allegation of swindling by saying that funds were never transferred to the central office. The Daily Star did not mention that any such money transfer took place.

We stand by our report.

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