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Delta Life Insurance’s wrangle with IDRA chairman takes a heated turn

  • Published at 12:25 am February 19th, 2021
Delta Life Insurance

IDRA-appointed administrator instructs the insurer to withdraw complaint against the regulatory body's chairman from the Anti-Corruption Commission

The plot just gets murkier for Delta Life Insurance, which has been locked in a bitter tussle with the watchdog’s chairman.

On February 11, the Insurance Development Regulatory Authority dispatched an administrator, Sultan-ul-Abedine Molla, a former member of IDRA, to the 35-year-old insurer as per section 95 of the Insurance Act 2010.

Four days earlier, Delta Life called a press conference and played out an audio clip that suggested the IDRA Chairman M. Mosharraf Hossain had solicited a bribe of Tk 50 lakh pertaining to renewing the contract of its chief executive officer along with other regulatory approvals.

Delta Life Insurance had filed a complaint with Anti-Corruption Commission against the IDRA chairman over the illegal gratification sought.

Now, it appears the administrator appointed by the IDRA, Sultan-ul-Abedine Molla, is doing the bidding of Hossain.

On Wednesday, he sent a letter to Pallab Bhowmic, the joint executive vice-president of Delta Life Insurance, terming the allegations against the IDRA chairman false and fabricated and asked the company to withdraw the complaint from the ACC. Dhaka Tribune has a copy of the letter.

“This development confirms our apprehension that the administrator has been appointed for a collateral purpose, namely, to interfere with and frustrate an investigation on an allegation of corruption by procuring a withdrawal of the complaint through duress,” Zeyad Rahman, a board member of Delta Life told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.

The allegation is corroborated by multiple audio recordings and subsequent admission by the IDRA chairman that he did indeed seek illegal gratification, he said.

“We remain confident that our position will be vindicated by a fair and proper inquiry and investigation by the government and the ACC,” he added.  

Molla and Hossain did not respond to calls from Dhaka Tribune for his comment on the report yesterday.

It all started on November 13 last year, when Hossain called Md. Abdul Awal, an executive of Delta Life, to his house and demanded Tk 2 crore as bribe for renewing the contract of CEO, Adeeba Rahman, and approving the actuarial basis of the insurer for 2019.

But the Delta Life employee responded in the negative. 

The IDRA chairman, who was previously a senior officer at Delta Life Insurance, then brought down the amount allegedly to Tk 1 crore and later to Tk 50 lakh. 

After the meeting, Awal informed the matter to the Delta Life top management, who directed him to initiate another conversation with the IDRA chairman and record it. 

On November 14, Awal again met with Hossain at his residence and recorded the conversation, in which he demanded Tk 50 lakh.

If the amount is paid, Hossain would renew the CEO's contract, improve the actuarial basis and wave the fines. If not paid, he would get journalists to write against Delta Life and appoint an administrator.

A day later, after the Delta Life management did not respond to the call for the kickback, the IDRA chairman rejected the renewal of the CEO's contract.

“As we are loyal to the prime minister’s zero-tolerance policy, we did not follow the path to give illegal gratification to the IDRA chairman,” Chowdhury Qamrul Ahsan, executive director of Delta Life Insurance, said in the press conference on February 7 this year, where he played out the audio recording.

On November 15 last year, the IDRA fined Delta Life Tk 5 lakh for the insurer’s failure to submit the audited report for 2019, which, according to the company, was being delayed because one of the documents called the actuarial valuation report was not approved by the regulator on time.    

Then on December 7, Delta Life Insurance filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Commission for illegal gratification sought by the IDRA chairman along with the audio clip and transcript.

“He [the IDRA chairman] is intimidating the company to impose a fine under different excuses. He is even threatening that he would suspend the board of directors and appoint an administrator,” Ahsan said in the press conference.

Shares of Delta Life, which has been listed since 1995, have been on a descent since January 19: it dropped 19.3 per cent since then. On Thursday, they closed at Tk 70.8, down 0.4 per cent from the previous session.

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