Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Banks sweep bad loans under the carpet

Ten banks hid more than Tk 5,104 crore of their default loans to show that the ailing banks are in a good health, a Bangladesh Bank inspection found.
Four state banks showed Tk 4,358 crore less than their actual amount of default loans, while six private banks hid Tk 746 crore.
Sonali Bank recorded its bad loans at Tk 12,053.26 crore and Rupali Bank at Tk 969.39 crore at the end of 2012, although the figures were much higher than the banks’ estimate, the inspection found.
These two banks — Sonali and Rupali — came under surveillance as they hid the highest amounts of their default loans.
The central bank’s inspection report shows additional default loans of Tk 1,313.27 crore in 12 large branches of Sonali and Tk 2,118 crore in 11 large branches of Rupali.
The BB has already held meetings with all these 10 banks, to advise them on readjusting their statements. A BB team took nearly two months to carry out the inspection.
The parliamentary standing committee on the finance ministry held a special meeting on Sonali Bank on March 13.It presented a picture of the condition of Sonali Bank, which showed the situation was worse compared to the provisional data.
The BB also told the parliamentary panel that as new bad loans were found, the capital deficit of Sonali Bank would stand at Tk 1,904 crore, which was shown as Tk 764 crore in the central bank’s provisional data on December 31, 2012.
As per the BB provisional estimate, Sonali Bank’s net loss was Tk 1,278 crore in 2012. A BB official told the committee that the amount could increase to Tk 2,418 crore.
On March 20, an IMF mission started a second review of its extended credit facility loans. The mission has held several meetings with the finance minister, and high officials of the finance ministry and the central bank. The visit ended on Tuesday.
The IMF team also expressed its doubts on Rupali Bank’s statement on its classified loans. The lender also sought an explanation from the central bank on the matter.
The provision and capital requirements of all the banks will increase further as more classified loans have been unearthed.
Scams hit the state-owned banks badly in 2012. The central bank found that Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch of Sonali Bank gave little-known Hall-Mark more than Tk 2,600 crore on forged documents, throwing the country’s largest bank into jeopardy.
Some top officials of Rupali Bank said many loans were given on political considerations in the past few years.