Commerce ministry awaits law ministry’s opinion to appoint administrator in Jubak

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Dhaka, Feb 3: The commerce ministry is yet to receive the law ministry’s opinion on its proposal to appoint an administrator in the Jubo Karmasangsthan Society (Jubak), a non-governmental savings and credit organisation of the country, to return the deposits of investors across the country.

The commerce ministry had sent in its proposal to the law ministry around five months ago. In the meantime, the Jubak authorities—who have been accused of illegally collecting funds from its depositors and misusing funds—are building up its funds by secretly selling the society’s assets, thanks to the delay on the part of the law ministry to give its opinion, sources in the commerce ministry disclosed.

As a result, a great deal of uncertainty has been created over the return of the money and assets deposited in Jubak by ordinary citizens.

The high-ranking officials of the two ministries could not confirm how much time it would take to resolve the problem or the funds and assets of the depositors that could be returned. When asked about the delay in the appointment of an administrator in Jubak, Abdul Mannan, joint secretary in the commerce ministry, told themorningbellbd.com that they could do nothing until they get the opinion of the law ministry, although they have completed the procedure of the appointment.

“A joint secretary in the law ministry has assured us that they would give us their opinion this week. Steps would be taken immediately after the opinion is received,” he said, in reply to a query. Once the administrator is appointed, steps to refund depositors’ savings with interest would be taken by selling Jubak properties, according to the reports of two probe commissions.

A senior official of the law ministry told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that the decision is pending since it has not received the minister’s consent.

“It is not true that the file has been pending for six months with the law ministry. We received the file on September 15 last year. We have already prepared an opinion in this regard, which was sent to the secretary on November 5, but it was returned,” the source in the law ministry said.

According to the source, the ministry will send its opinion to the commerce ministry after holding a discussion with the law minister soon. Officials said the commerce ministry’s proposal—sent to the law ministry in August, seeking punitive measures against the persons involved in misappropriation of depositors’ money and appointment of an administrator for Jubak and its associate bodies—is still awaiting vetting.

This administrator is supposed to take over all assets, such as land and properties and bank accounts, of Jubak and its associate organisations.

The law ministry’s dilemma has created an impasse, the sources said, mentioning the mounting suffering of some 2,67,330 depositors, who have been waiting for around 10 years to get back the money they had deposited. Jubak’s activities have been suspended since 2006, when allegations of embezzlement of funds were levelled against its management.

The Farashuddin Commission and Jubak Commission had found massive discrepancies in the assets and deposits collected from the people. The Jubak statement, submitted to the Bangladesh Bank in 2006, claimed that it had collected only Tk. 38 crore from 2.67 lakh depositors. However, the government’s commissions found that Jubak had collected around Tk. 2,010 crore from the same number of field-level depositors.

The Rafiqul Islam Commission, in its 25-point set of recommendations submitted in July 2013, advised the government to take legal action against around 40 people of Jubak, who were involved in the embezzlement of huge amounts of depositors’ money.

(By Anisur Rahman Khan)

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