Some 200,000 Oriental Bank account holders will be allowed to start withdrawing their deposits from the once scandal ridden bank on May 5, Bangladesh Bank (BB) sources said yesterday.

However the account holders will only receive the sum they placed in the bank, with no interest or other returns being paid. They will also have to withdraw the money in installments.

“We have approached the government to permit the depositors to withdraw their principal amounts from May 5 following Oriental Bank’s new owner’s request,” a senior BB official told The Daily Star asking not to be named.

Switzerland-based ICB Financial Group Holdings AG bought 50.10 percent of Oriental Bank at a cost of Tk 350 crore earlier this year.

Under the new proposals depositors will be limited to withdrawing one lakh taka every six months.

In January last year, the central bank imposed the moratorium on all activities of Oriental Bank except a few kinds of transactions including limited deposit withdrawal. The suspension was imposed for the reconstitution of the bank following an acute financial crisis, due to rampant corruption by a section of directors.

The new buyer has already proposed to rename the bank ‘ICB Islamic Bank Ltd’.

According to sources, some 200,000 depositors have Tk 2,220 crore as in December 2006. Of which, public deposit was Tk 1,300 crore, government deposit Tk 570 crore and deposit from other banks was Tk 350 crore.

Under the scheme, only the principal amount (excluding profit) of the liabilities as recorded in the bank’s books of accounts on January 25 last year will be payable.

AS part of the scheme depositors over Tk10 lakh will have to use some of their deposits to buy newly issued shares in Oriental Bank. Depositors with less than this amount will also be encouraged to convert part of their savings into shares, although it will not be compulsory.

However not all depositors are likely to be happy with the scheme.

“I have a Mudaraba Account of Tk 7 lakh with the bank. The amount is supposed to mature inAugust 2008. I have been informed by the bank that I’ll not get any profit and the principal amount will be given in installments,” Aminur Rahman said.

Rahman said: “The irony of fate is that the policy is being applied to small account holders like us but not with the big ones. There are approximately 180,000 people like me.”

A senior official in the Banking Regulations and Policy Department of BB however said depositors are not supposed to get profit from their money, as the bank did not make any profit during the period.

Oriental bank is an Islamic Shariah-based bank. Depositors are supposed to share profit and loss. They (depositors) are not losing any money, although they won’t get profit of their deposits,” the official added.

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