BB reshuffles National Bank board; a revolving door for S Alam’s influence


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BB reshuffles National Bank board; a revolving door for S Alam’s influence

Special Correspondent:

In a move that raises serious questions about regulatory capture in Bangladesh’s banking sector, Bangladesh Bank once again dissolved the board of directors of National Bank, the country’s largest lender. This dramatic second restructuring within just four months, following the previous board’s rejection of a proposed merger, casts a long shadow of doubt on the true intentions behind the decision.

While Bangladesh Bank claims the move aims to strengthen governance, a critical analysis reveals a concerning trend: the newly appointed board appears heavily influenced by the S Alam Group, a controversial conglomerate with a history of alleged financial irregularities in the banking sector. A significant portion of the new directors hail from Chittagong, the group’s operational hub, or have established connections to S Alam itself. This dominance is further amplified by the presence of several individuals directly affiliated with the group holding board positions.

This development comes amidst a backdrop of persistent accusations against S Alam. The group has faced scrutiny for its dealings with several Shariah-based banks under its control, which despite having negative account balances, have received significant financial lifelines from Bangladesh Bank. This raises concerns about potential manipulation and undue influence within the banking system.

Furthermore, investigations have revealed that Mohammed Saiful Alam, the group’s owner, has built a billion-dollar business empire in Singapore without official approval for overseas investment from Bangladesh Bank. This lack of transparency and potential disregard for regulations further fuels suspicions of a cozy relationship between S Alam and the regulatory authorities.

The timing of the board dissolution, following the previous board’s rejection of the merger proposal, suggests a punitive measure against dissent, raising concerns about the independence of Bangladesh Bank from undue influence. Additionally, the recent convenient revocation of an order to investigate S Alam for alleged financial misconduct creates an environment conducive to their continued dominance within the banking sector.

The potential consequences of this situation are far-reaching. The public’s trust in National Bank, a critical financial institution, could be significantly eroded if the perception of undue influence by a single entity persists. Moreover, the dominance of S Alam within the board raises concerns about renewed risks of financial irregularities and a lack of accountability within the bank.

Ultimately, the National Bank board restructuring, despite claims of improved governance, appears to have solidified S Alam’s grip on the country’s largest financial institution. This raises critical questions about the true intentions behind the move and the potential for further erosion of transparency and accountability within Bangladesh’s banking sector. The lack of transparency surrounding Bangladesh Bank’s decision-making process and the apparent ease with which S Alam navigates regulations demand a thorough investigation to ensure the integrity and stability of the country’s financial system.



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