Indian investigators are trying to trace how much money PK Halder, allegedly involved in over Tk 10,000-crore loan scams in Bangladesh, laundered to India and the amount of wealth he obtained through it.
During an interrogation yesterday, PK Halder told India’s Directorate of Enforcement (ED) that he held passports of India and Grenada apart from that of Bangladesh, according to sources.
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“Besides Bangladeshi and Indian passports, he [PK Halder] was also found in possession of a Grenada passport,” reads a statement issued by the ED.
Hours after Halder’s arrest, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the Indian side had not yet officially informed Dhaka about the arrest.
“We learnt from the media that PK Halder, a wanted accused in Bangladesh, was arrested… We will take the next steps as per the law,” he said at a programme yesterday afternoon.
Earlier on Saturday, Halder was arrested in Kolkata’s Ashoknagar along with his five cohorts. All of them were produced before a special court dealing with cases filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It approved five-day remand for five of them including Halder under the ED custody and one under judicial custody.
Public money that Halder and his associates siphoned off to India and other countries would be repatriated upon confiscation of his properties, said Attorney General AM Amin Uddin.
Asked under what process he would be brought back to Bangladesh, he said that hopefully it would be possible to bring him back soon.
“… we have a money laundering case [against Halder] pending here. Steps will be taken to bring him back to complete the trial in that case. The issue will be discussed tomorrow,” he told journalists at his office yesterday.
“He was arrested based on the information provided by our Anti-Corruption Commission and Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit …”
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said it’s possible to bring back the money that Halder had laundered toIndia. But that would be a complex and time-consuming process.
It could take three to six months to bring Halder back to Bangladesh, said the lawyer adding that if he is not tried in India, it wouldn’t take that long to repatriate him.
It’s essential to bring him back because he was at the centre of scams involving huge amounts of money, Khurshid pointed out.
“It was not possible for him to do that alone. Others were also involved in those scams and their identities will come to light through his [Halder] interrogation.”
ACC Deputy Director Gulshan Anowar Prodhan said Halder took bribes for facilitating loans through forgery.
“We have traced Tk 250 crore in Halder’s salary account,” he said adding that charges were pressed against PK Halder in a case filed for amassing Tk 426 crore illegally.
So far, the ACC has found that Halder had investments of Tk 200 crore in a five-star hotel in Cox’s Bazar, 10,000 decimals of land in Narayanganj’s Rupganj, four acres of land in Mymensingh, over 60 bighas of land in Purbachal, an 11-storey market on a nine-katha plot worth around Tk 40 crore, Tk 300-crore investment in resorts in Rangamati, several flats worth about Tk 20 crore and around Tk 100 crore in different bank accounts.
Under the alias “Shibshankar Halder”, PK Halder forged documents including ration card in West Bengal, Indian Voter ID card, Permanent Account Number and multi-purpose Aadhar card. He used those to buy properties in India with the laundered money.
Halder’s name came up for discussions during the “anti-casino” drives in Bangladesh in 2019.
There are allegations that he embezzled Tk 10,200 crore from People’s Leasing and Financial Service (PLFS), International Leasing and Financial Service Limited, FAS Finance, and Reliance Finance.
The ACC has so far filed 36 cases over the scams and Halder has been made the prime accused in those.
PLFS is now in the process of liquidation while the rest are in a bad shape.