DHAKA: Caught up in a logjam of lawsuits, mostly seen as dubious, many investors have been deprived of due dividends and profits from their capital invested in the capital market for years.
The long-pending cases have been filed against many companies trading on the capital market by the stock-market regulator, Securities and Exchange Commission, or against the watchdog itself by the firms, market sources said.
The SEC filed the cases against individuals and organizations on charges of irregularities. In fact, the litigation proved to be a blessing in disguise for the companies—they got the reason for holding back from issuing dividends as well as profits to their shareholders.
On their part, the individuals and organizations sued the commission challenging its decisions. “But proceedings of most of the cases are put on the backburner, somehow or other,” said one of the sources.
Meanwhile, country’s both the bourses--Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE)--and their regulatory body SEC have long demanded the formation of a separate bench of court to dispose of the case overhang on the capital market.
Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed also assured the authorities concerned of introducing such a bench to deal with the cases on July 19 last year, but to no avail yet.
A total of 248 appeals and cases, both civil and criminal, filed by and against SEC are under trial in different courts, officials said.
Out of the 248 cases, eight are pending with the Appellate Division, 97 with the High Court Division, six with Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s Court, one each with the 1st Assistant Session Judge’s court and the 4th joint district judge’s court, eight with the 5th joint district judge’s court, one each with the 4th Assistant Judge’s Court, Dhaka, the 8th Assistant Judge’s Court and the 9th Assistant Judge’s Court (Savar), eight with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court and the rest 116 with the General Certificate Court, Dhaka.
Also, 7 out of 15 cases in respect of the 1996 share scam are pending with the Appellate Division, 2 with the High Court Division and the rest with lower courts. Hearing dates are yet to be fixed.
According to SEC, it filed 139 cases against individuals and organizations while the commission faced 97 cases from 2001-02 to 2008-09 fiscal. Not a single one of the cases has yet got through the jammed corridors of courts.
About the cases, SEC member (law division) Anisuzzaman told banglanews24.com.bd that many cases are pending following court stay orders. “We have nothing to do. We also urged the law minister to form a bench for quick disposal of the cases. But the result is still awaited.”
Former president of the DSE Rakibur Rahman said the government should take necessary measures in this regard as the marginal investors are to incur losses in the end.
Investors Rizvi and Shahin Halim expressed their dissatisfaction over the deadlock. “Though the delay with the case proceedings helps companies make profit, we are to suffer a lot,” said both of them.
“Directors of companies, in some cases, sued each other intentionally to avert sharing profits with the shareholders. A section of officials of SEC and DSE are also involved in the malpractice” the investor-duo also alleged.
“We need immediate intervention of the government to get rid of the case congestion,” they said.
BDST: 14:00 pm, 10 June 2010