Leasing and financing companies (although we call them NBFIs) have lost deposits recently. Several people of that sector have said that the negative effect of P.K. Haldar's looting spree spread over almost a decade is responsible. Blaming Haldar is very much in fashion now. Among other things, he has now become the fall guy for all ills that ails the sector. It would have been better if financial sector specialists had been able to admit their general lack of competence in the system as a whole allowed Haldar to do what he did.

Haldar in India or the Indian connection?

Haldar in India is seen as a place where he chose to hide rather than a place which is actually part of a large scale money laundering operations centre. Many there are involved and are skilled in transfers of money and goods having their feet in both India and Bangladesh. That has historically evolved so it will go on.

However, a section of the Indian establishment certainly has a stake in the Haldars that operate in Bangladesh. They are party to the scams through both advice and investment and of course later as recipients of the money smuggled away. While we speak of Canada and Switzerland, we don't mention Kolkata and elsewhere much. Several cases have come up which show active involvement of such types of players. Some kind of surveillance is needed in both India and Malaysia.

The other question that has emerged is a more serious and political in nature so to speak. The Indian intelligence is far more efficient than ours and has caught more thieves including powerful ones there many times. Since, it was no secret where he was living to many and Haldar was essentially not hiding, how was his presence missed by them? It can only happen if he was allowed to go on living in safety and even invest his smuggled money. Point is, was Delhi protecting him or Kolkata?

India media has also been speculating on this as well. Haldar had been able to access NI cards, bank accounts, investment; purchases etc which are impossible to do without some high level support. So involvement is obvious but the timing is important. It's close to the elections and he can generate more political vulnerability now than anytime else. So whose politics will he serve best?

It's possible that Trinamool Congress leaders were helping him out in lieu of money but did the Delhi establishment know this? Bangladesh knew this also but as usual was not very effective. Lacking any clout they were hoping that the Haldar scam would one day get buried and they could move on. But Delhi probably had other ideas on this and keeping the next elections in mind rumbled him, spoiling both TC's political future and if needed lean on BD leaders as well before 2023.

Haldar will name important names and that means, neutralising many in the influential establishment in Bangladesh and Bengal. Haldar has now graduated into a major political tool in the region though one is not sure that he is enjoying it as much as he enjoyed stealing people's money in Bangladesh before.

Can the Bangladeshi system cope?

There is little doubt that they can't. The financial regulatory bodies, the surveillance systems, the not so brilliant decision making all point to sectorial managers in charge of a machine beyond their capacity to handle. Add to this is, the all pervasive corruption that seems to attract corruption the way rotten meat attracts flies. And of course there are the crime prevention and security outfits who seem to have cooperated with Haldar in letting him get away as per even the High Court observations.

The reason the system finds coping difficult is because directly or indirectly, the system is partly a Haldar itself. And the rest have little skill or capacity to manage it. It's best to face the fact that the Haldars are here to stay for a long while.

If that is the case, with the financial sector resembling the national cricket team more and more every day, one should at least pay some heed to the calls made.

  • Settle the various leasing companies' mess immediately. A signal must go out on whose side is the Government on.
  • Start training staff on rational and responsible banking and money transaction based on official approval and encouragement of the PM as she alone seems to matter
  • Initiate a Corruption Control unit in every financial outfit.

Nobody wants high damage beyond repair to the financial sector. But the desire to prevent such damage must come from the official financial establishment first.

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