The Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday approved submission of a charge sheet against former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and 10 others, including six officials of now-renamed Farmers Bank Ltd, on charge of laundering of Tk 4 core from the bank.

The regular commission meeting at its headquarters gave the approval examining the investigation report submitted by its director Benozir Ahmed, commission’s director general Sayeed Mahbub Khan told reporters.

He said the charge sheet would be submitted to the respective court soon.

Commission’s director Sayed Iqbal Hossain filed the first-ever corruption case against a former chief justice in the country on July 10.

The commission dropped former Farmers Bank senior executive vice-president Ziauddin Ahmed from the case as he died while former audit committee chairman of the bank Mahbubul Haque Chisty was named as the investigation found evidence against him, he said.

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The five officials of Farmers Bank Ltd (now Padma Bank Ltd) to face charges are former managing director and chief executive officer AKM Shameem, first vice-presidents Swapan Kumar Roy and Shafiuddin Askaree, senior executive vice-president Gazi Salauddin and vice-president M Lutful Haque.

The rest four accused are the bank’s clients M Shahjahan, Niranjan Chandra Saha, Ranajit Chandra Saha and his wife Santree Roy.

According to commission officials, the investigation said that Niranjan Chandra Saha and M Shahjahan transferred Tk 4 crore from their accounts with the Gulshan Branch of the bank to Justice SK Sinha’s account with the Supreme Court Branch of Sonali Bank Limited through two pay orders — Tk 2 crore each — on November 9, 2016.

The fund was withdrawn at different times from Justice SK Sinha’s account, the findings show.

Following direct instruction of Mahbubul Haque Chisty, bankers approved loan of Tk 4 crore without any inspection of mortgage as the seekers Shahjahan and Niranjan showed 32 acres of land of Santree at Savar, the investigation found.

It found that Niranjan was nephew of Ranajit Chandra while Ranajit and Shahjahan were childhood friends.

The probe report sought trial of all the 11 accused for siphoning off the money from the then Farmers Bank in collusion of each other between November 2016 and September 2018, when former home minister and Awami League lawmaker Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir was the chairman of the bank.

It said that they tried to transfer and hide the money, which constituted offences under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012.

In November 2017, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and Mahbubul Haque Chisty resigned from the bank following the Bangladesh Bank’s caution regarding the liquidity crisis.

On April 25, 2018, the commission started an inquiry into a complaint from an unknown source that Tk 4 crore was transferred to Justice SK Sinha’s bank account from two Farmers Bank accounts.

The inquiry began four months and a half after Justice Sinha resigned as the chief justice on November 10, 2018 amid serious controversies, following a unanimous Appellate Division verdict that upheld a High Court verdict striking down the 16th amendment to the constitution which restored the Jatiya Sangsad’s power to remove Supreme Court judges for misconduct or incapacity.

The unanimous verdict of the apex court penned down by chief justice SK Sinha created bitterness between him and the government.

Immediately after Justice Sinha’s resignation, law minister Anisul Huq said that the law would take its own course with regard to the 11 allegations brought against Justice Sinha by five fellow Appellate Division judges.

Justice Sinha, now in the United States, sent his letter of resignation through the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Singapore while he was there on his way to Australia.

Lawyers said that Sinha’s departure from Bangladesh and his resignation occurred due to pressure mounted by the government.

On October 2, 2018, the law minister announced that Justice Sinha had expressed his desire to go on leave for a month with effect from October 3, 2018 saying that he was suffering from cancer and other diseases.

On October 3, 2018, the government announced that the next senior-most Appellate Division judge, Justice Wahhab Miah, would discharge the duties of the chief justice during Justice SK Sinha’s absence on ‘sick leave’.

A law ministry notification on October 12, 2018 extended his 30-day ‘sick leave’ until November 10, 2018.

On October 13, 2018, Justice Sinha left for Australia.

While leaving his official residence for the airport on the day, Justice Sinha told the waiting reporters in a written statement that he was going abroad for the time being and would return soon.

On October 14, 2018, in an unprecedented statement, Supreme Court registrar general Syed Aminul Islam said that five fellow Appellate Division judges declined to share any bench with Justice Sinha after the president had handed to them documents regarding 11 specific allegations about corruption and irregularities committed by Justice Sinha.

The same statement said that the allegations against Justice Sinha included money laundering to foreign countries, financial irregularities, corruption and moral turpitude.

In August 2018, lawyers toeing the ruling Awami League’s political line held countrywide demonstrations demanding that the observations made in the verdict against the 16th amendment should be immediately withdrawn by Justice Sinha.

On August 1, 2018, the Appellate Division had released its full verdict on the 16th amendment.

Justice SK Sinha published a book titled ‘A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy’ in 2019 from the United States.

The former chief justice wrote in his book that he was forced to leave the country after he penned the unanimous verdict on the 16th amendment to the constitution.

Justice SK Sinha also claimed in his book that the money in question was transferred to his bank account as the sale proceeds of his house.

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