A number of Farmers Bank depositors have filed complaints with the Bangladesh Bank after the scam-hit bank failed to repay them Tk 852 crore of deposits citing a liquidity crunch.
The fourth generation bank has been going through an acute liquidity crisis since November last year for indulging in malpractice while disbursing more than half of its total outstanding loans of Tk 5,130 crore, according to the BB.
Between November 2017 and February this year, the BB has received complaints from 14 government agencies, four businesses and 21 individuals about the bank's refusal to repay the sums upon maturity of term deposits.
The government agencies include the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (Tk 508 crore), Jiban Bima Corporation (Tk 115 crore), the Mongla Port Authority (Tk 68 crore) and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (Tk 38.59 crore).
The businesses are: Ayesha Clothing Company (Tk 18 crore), Nafa Apparels (Tk 6 crore), Aswad Composite Mills (Tk 5 crore) and New Hope Feed Mill Bangladesh (Tk 30 lakh).
Farmers Bank owes the government agencies Tk 820 crore, the businesses Tk 29.30 crore and the individuals Tk 2.83 crore.
But the claims are bound to increase as many depositors are yet to file complaints, said a BB official.
“There is no scope to refund the depositors' money from the central bank's fund if any scheduled bank fails to repay the money in due time,” he added.
However, the central bank is allowed to take punitive measures against a bank in line with the Banking Company Act 1991 if it fails to protect the interest of depositors.
The Daily Star correspondent last week visited the Motijheel branch of the bank, where at least 10 depositors were excitedly waiting to get back their money.
One of them was a contractor by profession, who frequented the branch in the last one month hoping to get back his deposit amounting to Tk 10 lakh. But the branch officials told him there was no fund in the vault, he said.
He is yet to submit any complaint to the central bank over the matter.
Asked why he chose to deposit the money at Farmers Bank out of the 56 scheduled banks in Bangladesh, he said he was tempted by the high interest rate -- ranging between 11 percent and 11.50 percent.
“The majority of the banks were offering a maximum of 6 to 7 percent interest when I made the deposit one and a half years back,” he said. Asked, the branch officials said they were running a special drive to recover the defaulted loans. On an average, the recovery officers bring back Tk 30 lakh to Tk 40 lakh a day.
Md Ehsan Khasru, managing director of Farmers Bank, told The Daily Star that his bank had already renewed the majority of the fixed deposits after it failed to refund the money in due time. “The bank will repay the money within the shortest possible time as it has already recovered a large amount from defaulters.”
He went on to state that the bank had repaid Tk 260 crore to depositors in the last few months.