Caretaker government was in fact a military government: Salman F. Rahman replies The New York Times defending his arrest!

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The New York Times published an opinion “Bangladesh’s Other Banking Scam” on April 11, this year, written by Joseph Allchin , a British-born journalist based in Dhaka. Where Joseph Allchin suggests that Beximco’s loan defaults were an example of banks making loans nefariously.

Joseph Allchin wrote in his article ‘Here’s an example: Salman F. Rahman, one of Bangladesh’s wealthiest individuals and a co-founder of Beximco, a major business group that specializes in exports of pharmaceuticals and garments. A 2007 cable from the United States ambassador in Dhaka subsequently disclosed by WikiLeaks called Mr. Rahman “allegedly one of Bangladesh’s biggest bank loan defaulters.” He was imprisoned for fraud in 2007-8, under the caretaker government.’

Salmn F. Rahman in his reply to the The New York Times said, ‘so called “caretaker government” was in fact a military government which had usurped power under the guise of a caretaker government. Indeed, many politicians and businessmen were arrested, jailed, and tortured under the direction of the military officers running the “caretaker government.”

“Once the democratically elected government came to power I was released and that subsequently the courts dismissed the fraud allegations and all related cases against me.” he added.

His rejoinder was published on May 27.

Full statement of Salman F. Rahman

Mr. Allchin states that I was imprisoned for fraud by the caretaker government, but conveniently excludes the fact that the so called “caretaker government” was in fact a military government which had usurped power under the guise of a caretaker government. Indeed, many politicians and businessmen were arrested, jailed, and tortured under the direction of the military officers running the “caretaker government.” He also conveniently fails to mention that once the democratically elected government came to power I was released and that subsequently the courts dismissed the fraud allegations and all related cases against me.

The Beximco group does have significant borrowings from local banks, as is common for many large conglomerates such as ours. We employ over 60,000 people and our turnover is over $1 billion. Nevertheless, Mr. Allchin paints a picture that the loans were obtained with the intention of nonpayment because of my insider status, which is not true.

Servicing our loans during the eight-year period between 2001 and 2008 when the BNP was in power followed by the military caretaker government were undoubtedly difficult for us; our credit lines were frozen, and our interest rate rose to a debilitating 18 percent. Since that time, we have repaired our finances, by successfully restructuring our loans and the banks have agreed to reduce the interest rate to 10 percent. We did not ask for the banks to take a haircut, which was common when the BNP was in power. In our case not a single farthing was written off.

Had the restructuring not taken place, we would have been forced to close down our operations resulting in the loss of over 60,000 jobs, which would have impacted the country’s economy adversely.

Read Joseph Allchin’s opinion here

 

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