New MD for National Bank
AFM Shariful Islam has recently been appointed as the managing director of National Bank for a three-year term, the bank said in a statement yesterday. Prior to his appointment, Islam has been serving the bank as additional managing director. Islam started his career with AB Bank and later served Dhaka Stock Exchange as chief executive officer, according to the statement. He completed his MA with honours in economics from Rajshahi University and later completed a diploma on financial asset management and engineering from Switzerland.
Brokers’ unwillingness threatens to derail mobile trading
Share trading on mobile phones is yet to attract desired number of investors as many brokers are not willing to provide the service without fees, insiders said. The Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) launched the much-awaited DSE-Mobile share trading service on March 9 aiming to help enhance share trading through using the mobile application. The DSE announced that investors having BO (beneficiary owner) accounts are supposed to trade in shares on their mobile phones and also get access to required information without any change for a certain period. On the day of the service’s launch, the DSE authority provided a limit of registration to 5,000 investors. As of March 24, 2016, only 674 investors were able to get registered for doing mobile telephony-based trading. On Thursday, the DSE logged 148 orders through DSE Mobile.
20 indicted in nine cases over Hall-Mark scam
A Dhaka court yesterday framed charges against Hall-Mark Chairman Jasmine Islam, Managing Director Tanvir Mahmud and 18 others in nine cases filed in connection with swindling Sonali Bank out of BDT 22.5 billion. Rejecting the discharge petitions submitted by eight accused, including Jasmine and Tanvir, Judge Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah of the Senior Special Judge’s Court framed the charges yesterday and fixed April 21 for the beginning of the trials. Jasmine and seven others pleaded not guilty. Jasmine and another accused were on bail while six others, including Tanvir and Tushar Ahmed, are now in jail. The rest are on the run. Earlier on February 17, the same court framed charges against 19, including Jasmine and Tanvir, in two cases that involved BDT 4.4 billion. Bangladesh Bank unearthed a loan scam of BDT 35.0 billion at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch of Sonali Bank in May 2012. In connivance with some bank officials, the little known Hall-Mark alone took BDT 26.9 billion in loans using forged documents. The Hall-Mark bosses used forged inland bills, meaning the group opened letters of credit for purchase and sold them to the bank which paid Hall-Mark without verification and documentation.
Exporters irked by slow air shipments
Garment exporters yesterday reiterated their concerns over delays in the screening of exports from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport due to a shortage of scanning machinery. More than 300 tons of goods are backlogged every day due to the delay in screening at the airport, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Exporters send 800 tons to 1,000 tons of goods by air a day; they have to wait for a long time for screening due to the airport’s low scanning capacity. The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh introduced a new screening system at the airport after the UK banned direct air cargo from Dhaka to London. Cargo screening has slowed with the implementation of the new scanning system since Saturday, said an exporter. The screening capacity has been cut by half due to the new measures and implementation of new rules at the airport, according to the exporter.
Private sector pension plan on backburner
A move to introduce pension for private-sector employees is unlikely to be materialized soon as some in authority see it ‘premature’. The government had planned to make a law in 2015 to introduce a mandatory pension scheme in the private sector to help out elderly people at their journey’s fag-end. “The idea is moving around and there is yet nothing solid in this respect,” state minister for finance MA Mannan told the FE. Mr Mannan said: “Some came from Australia and discussed the issue and stopped….” On the other hand, people familiar with the developments told the FE that the matter was now lying in the bank and financial institutions division for a detailed study. The division of the finance ministry will conduct a study on how the voluntary pension system can be introduced in the formal and informal private sectors. There is no law providing for a comprehensive pension system for the elderly people in the private sector to get the benefit like those in the public sector. Sources said implementation of the scheme may not begin so shortly as law and other related regulations will have to be passed by the national parliament.
One-third SIMs verified so far
Mobile operators have biometrically verified and re-registered about 35.06% of their total active SIMs in the first three months since the scheme was launched in December last year. Bangladesh’s six mobile operators have 131.1 million active SIMs as of February and they verified 46.0 million connections till March 20. Some 8.0 million users failed the process due to fingerprint mismatch during verification, officials of the telecom division said. State Minister for Telecom Tarana Halim yesterday said she is more or less satisfied with the progress in the SIM verification process. The state minister also re-registered two of her SIMs at customer care centres in the capital, and talked to other customers. She reiterated that it is technically impossible to store fingerprints scanned under the verification system.
National Board of Revenue wins case against Jamuna Group
The National Board of Revenue intends to realize about BDT 7.0 billion from Jamuna Group for a case over the evasion of value-added tax and supplementary duty by its now-defunct unit, Aromatic Cosmetics, between 1996 and 2000. In a statement yesterday, the NBR said its Dhaka North VAT office had originally issued claims of BDT 1.7 billion after inspections of Aromatic Cosmetics’ factory in Gazipur. The NBR, citing the VAT law, said 2.0% interest is applicable if any firm does not deposit the VAT to the coffers in due time. So, the total amount of dues will come to about BDT 7.0 billion, according to the NBR. Jamuna Group disputed the number. The NBR found that Aromatic Cosmetics had dodged VAT and supplementary duty by not declaring prices of some products, showing lower prices of products and taking fake rebate. The revenue authority said its VAT office could not realize the evaded amount as Jamuna took the matter to court and the trial dragged on for years. In 2003, the company filed two petitions with the High Court, both of which were later dismissed.
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