Hall-Mark seeks fresh Sonali loan

October 7, 2012

Claims it can export garment worth Tk 500cr in 2 months if granted Tk 25cr loan
Controversial business group Hall-Mark has sought a fresh loan of Tk 25 crore from the Sonali Bank, claiming the credit would help it export garment worth Tk 500 crore in two months, said sources in the bank.
Like before, the company provided false and fabricated information relating to its export potentials.
Meanwhile, leading businessmen have questioned how could the Hall-Mark Group, which had exported only $55 million (Tk 448 crore) worth of garments in five and a half years, will be able to export over $60 million (Tk 500 crore) in two months.
“It took 15 years or more for many businesses to export $50 million worth of garments a year. It is absurd for little-known Hall-Mark to achieve that feat,” said Anawr-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, a leading exporter.
According to industry leaders, there are around 150 business houses that export $50 million worth of garments per year from Bangladesh. But it is not necessary for them to own 30-35 factories, though Hall-Mark claims of owning 34 factories.
They said a factory of 40 lines or two factories of 20 lines each can produce and export $50 million worth of garments a year.
A businessman need not own 35 factories to achieve such a target in over five years, mentioned Anwar, also a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Statistics of Hall-Mark says its total exports were $55 million between early 2007 and May this year.
An investigation by the Bangladesh Bank in May this year detected irregularities in the way the company took out loans of Tk 2,686 crore from the Ruposhi Bangla branch of the Sonali Bank. Since then all commercial banks stopped funding the group.
Banks do not even want to open any Letter of Credit (L/C) in favour of the company, which is imperative to export products.
Tushar Ahmed, general manager (commercial) of Hall-Mark Group, said they started export in 2007 with Hall-Mark Fashion and added six factories in 2008.
During a visit to the Hall-Mark factories at Hemayetpur in Savar in August, Tushar told this correspondent that they have export orders in hand worth only $7 million (Tk 56 crore), a much lower figure than the group cited to Sonali Bank about it export potentials.
Last week he admitted applying for the fresh loans.
Besides his chairman and managing director, Tushar is one of the principal accused in several cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for the loan scam.
Garments exporters, who are in business for more than two decades, are surprised to see how the little-known group with a small export figure was granted the loan in just two years.
Exporters said Tanvir Mahmud, owner of Hall-Mark Group, in the loan documents showed his factories’ capacity many times higher than the reality to deceive the bank and swindle depositors’ money.
According to BGMEA members’ directory, Hall-Mark Denim Composite’s annual capacity has been shown at 3.5 lakh dozen or 42 lakh pieces a year. If a piece is exported at a minimum price of $3, this factory alone can fetch $12.6 million a year.
Yearly production capacities of Hall-Mark Design, Hall-Mark Denim Fashion and Hall-Mark Fashion have been shown 48 lakh, 42 lakh and 54 lakh pieces respectively.
“If these four factories are run on 60 percent capacity, they together can earn $50 million a year from exports,” said Iqbal Hossain, another exporter.
He also suspected many of the Hall-Mark factories are paper-based, but the bank failed to detect that.
“How could Sonali Bank lend such a big amount of depositors’ money to Hall-Mark without checking its production capacity and exports?” questioned Parvez.
Exporters also said to run so many factories, Hall-Mark requires efficient people in its management. But the businessmen do not know any such skilful person in the Hall-Mark’s upper ranks.

-With The Daily Star input

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