Wanted over scams in Bangladesh, PK Halder and associates face grilling after arrest in India

Law-enforcing authorities in India have arrested Proshanta Kumar Halder, who is wanted in Bangladesh in connection with scams worth billions of takas, according to information from the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 14 May 2022, 11:28 AM
Updated : 14 May 2022, 08:21 PM

Officials in Bangladesh on Saturday confirmed India media reports that Halder was arrested in West Bengal. The local media also reported that Halder was remanded in custody of the Enforcement Directorate of India.

The directorate raided 10 locations on Friday, saying Halder and his associates bought the properties by using fake Indian identities.

Kolkata-based daily the Sangbad Praitidin said a court granted the directorate until Tuesday to grill Halder and four others in custody for investigation. The court also ordered it to keep in jail a woman who was arrested in the raids.

The Sangbad Pratidin reported the directorate seized documents on huge assets of Halder.

The local media reported that the woman arrested in the raids is Sushmita Saha, wife of Halder.  

The Sangbad Pratidin said the directorate conducted the raids following information from Bangladeshi detectives that Halder was hiding in Ashoknagar.

Khurshid Alam, the chief counsel of ACC, said: “We've come to know that the Enforcement Directorate arrested PK Halder in West Bengal.”

On how authorities plan to bring PK Halder back to Bangladesh, Alam said, “He’ll be shown arrested under the specific law he was arrested there or he will be handed over to Bangladesh under the mutual [cooperation] deal or extradition treaty with India.” The mutual cooperation treaty was used to ask India for information on Halder.

“[PK Halder] will be produced in court when he is handed over to Bangladesh. ACC will then petition to remand him. ACC will follow the court orders,” Alam said, adding that Halder faces arrest warrants in 36 cases on charges of money laundering.

“The [Indian] law enforcers swiftly took him in, and that is special good news for us as processes left hanging for investigation will gain speed with the opportunity to question him.”

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said he knew the Indian authorities had collected information on Halder but was unaware of his arrest.

Asked whether his ministry will work bring back the funds siphoned off by Halder, Momen said the ministry generally deals with such issues on ACC’s instructions.

“The Indian authorities are yet to notify us [Bangladesh foreign ministry] about the development by using official channel. We will take whatever step is necessary once we are informed officially.”

“Many people over the years have smuggled money out of the country by using aliases. I consider them as enemies of the state. It is better to bring them back using whatever means necessary.”

The Enforcement Directorate of India conducted raids on 10 properties linked to Proshanta, Pritish Kumar Halder, Pranesh Kumar Halder and Sukumar Mridha throughout Friday, according to media reports.

Halder is a former managing director of the International Leasing and Financial Services Limited or ILFSL and NRB Global Bank. He is accused of embezzling funds and purchasing large shares while taking control of four financial institutions, in which he placed his close associates in positions of power.

The ACC has so far prosecuted PK Halder and a number of his associates in at least 34 cases on charges of embezzlement of billions of takas and money laundering.

The investigators have charged them in court in one of the cases and three more charge sheets are awaiting the ACC’s approval.

As many as 13 of the accused have been arrested and grilled in custody while 11 of them have given statements confessing to their parts of the crimes. Court has slapped an overseas travel ban on 64 people in connection with the cases.

It also ordered a freeze on bank accounts of 83 associates of PK Halder and their immovable assets worth around Tk 10 billion.

EXTRADITION OF HALDER ‘SOON’

Bangladesh entered the extradition deal with India in 2013 to facilitate the exchange of prisoners. The deal was much discussed when Anup Chetia, general secretary of India's insurgent group United Liberation Front of Asom or ULFA, was handed over to the Indian authorities in 2015.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the Indian authorities did not inform the Bangladesh government about Halder’s arrest. “He will be brought back under the extradition deal for trial as soon as possible after we get the information formally. It will be done soon.”

Md Mokhlesur Rahman, former additional inspector general of police, said extraditing a prisoner can take up to three months.

The Bangladesh government will send a letter to its Indian counterpart through proper channel. India will then consider it, and then send PK Halder over if they agree.

AKM Shahidul Haque, a former IGP, thinks the good relations between the two countries will come into play here.

He said it takes three to four months to establish formal communication between two countries through the Interpol’s local branch National Central Bureau.

“There is a problem here. A country wants to see the sentence of the court before extraditing a captive. An arrest warrant issued by the court also works. They [the country holding the prisoner] do not give importance to issues under investigation. But as Bangladesh has close ties with India, it is possible to bring PK Halder back swiftly.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
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