Dhaka, Bangladesh
Islami Bank conflict peaks

Islami Bank conflict peaks

The fight between two top board members of Islami Bank Bangladesh, known as the financial backbone of Jamaat-e-Islami, has been flung out into the public, reports bdnews24.com. The government recently appointed them in wanting to establish its control over the country's largest private bank. But their dispute threatens to strengthen the Jamaat supporters' clout and halt the government's unofficial endeavour in its tracks. The row first came under media glare after Syed Ahsanul Alam Parvez, a vice chairman at the bank, wrote a Facebook post on May 11. Two days later, the head of the bank's human resource division, Mahboob Alam, was transferred. Parvez said the board of directors had also decided to transfer the heads of public relations and corporate social responsibility divisions, give Tk 4.5 billion Zakat money to the prime minister's fund, and distribute Tk 130 million Iftar money through the social welfare ministry this year. The bank denied Parvez's claims on the decisions in a statement after four days, on Wednesday. On Thursday, Chairman Arastoo Khan appeared before the media. He said the vice chairman's claim about the decision to give Tk 4.5 billion Zakat money to the prime minister's fund was 'actually not true'. "There is in fact only Tk 270 million in the Islami Bank's Zakat fund," he claimed. "I was called to the Prime Minister's Office after media had carried reports on the matter. I had a nearly 40-minute conversation with the prime minister about this," said former additional secretary. Arastoo also brushed aside as 'baseless' Parvez's claim that the control of Islami Bank was returning to anti-liberation forces. The chairman accused Parvez of breaching oath by speaking to the media about the bank's internal matters. Arastoo was made chairman and Parvez vice chairman in a major shake-up in January. Md Abdul Hamid Miah was given the managing director's post. According to Parvez, the new leadership took a raft of decisions to free the bank from the influence of anti-liberation forces, but those were not fully adhered to. He said that he was threatened with death and asked to resign. He alleged that it was part of a conspiracy to re-establish Jamaat's control in the bank. The former Chittagong University professor was then taken to a board meeting under tight security on May 13. He is now blaming MD Miah for the denial of the decisions taken in the meeting. Accompanied by Miah, Arastoo told the press conference: "The allegation brought by the vice chairman in his Facebook status that the Islami Bank's control has returned to anti-liberation forces is baseless. His allegation that he is being threatened and asked to resign is also baseless." "Ahsanul Alam Parvez can step down if he wants to. There is no pressure from the bank on him to stay on or leave," he added. Later, Parvez said that he could not attend Thursday's meeting because the bank authorities did not arrange security for him. Earlier on Wednesday, Islami Bank Bangladesh has denied claims made by two members of its board of directors that it decided to give its Zakat money to the prime minister's Zakat fund this year. The bank says the media reports on the board decisions on the fund, distribution of Iftar through the government, transfer of executives, and other issues were 'misleading'. It released a statement on Wednesday, four days after Syed Ahsanul Alam Parvez, one of its vice-chairmen, and Qazi Shahidul Alam, a director, confirmed to bdnews24.com the decisions taken by the board of directors earlier in that day. Asked about the statement, Parvez told bdnews24.com later in the night that Managing Director Md Abdul Hamid Miah "was not accepting the board's decisions following instructions by a group". Parvez joined the meeting on Saturday under tight security following 'death threats' asking him to resign amid a tug-of-war between the 'old guard' belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and newly appointed executives over control of the largest bank of the country. He said on Wednesday that "the pressure and threats were mounting on him", and he could not join Wednesday's meeting due to lack of security. Intelligence agencies, police and RAB personnel provided him security on Saturday, he said. After that meeting, Parvez and Shahidul said the board removed Md Mahboob Alam as the head of its human resource division. He was made an officer on special duty or OSD. They said the heads of public relations and corporate social responsibility divisions would also be transferred to other departments. Besides the changes in management, the board decided to give Tk 4.5 billion Zakat money to the prime minister's Zakat fund, instead of distributing the money directly itself; and distribute Tk 130 million of Iftar fund among the people through the social welfare ministry, said Parvez and Shahidul. Now four days after publishing the report, the bank has denied the claims of Parvez and Shahidul in the statement, signed by Sheikh Saidul Hasan, an assistant vice president. "This is utter falsification by the management," Parvez said about the statement. He said Chairman Arastoo Khan and MD Hamid were present at the meeting when the decisions were taken. "Now they (management) have sent a press release full of lies," he said. Parvez said the board decided in the meeting to make HR division head Mahboob OSD. "But now he has been transferred to the rural development scheme. This is all part of the management's conspiracy," said Parvez.

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