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Islami Bank Bangladesh has declined since a boardroom coup in 2017

“IT’S LIKE the Midas effect in reverse,” says Badiul Majumdar of SHUJAN, an anti-corruption pressure group. “Everything the government touches turns not to gold, but rather from gold to dust.” He is talking about Islami Bank Bangladesh, which was rocked in 2017 when the government sent military-intelligence operatives to force out senior executives and board members, and replaced them with figures more to its liking. Fears that the boardroom coup would drag down a comparatively well-managed institution in a sector marred by political meddling and cronyism now appear to have been justified.Established in 1983 as Bangladesh’s first bank run on Islamic principles, Islami thrived by handling a large share of remittances from emigrant workers and by lending to the booming garment industry. Its troubles stem from its links with Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, which allied with Pakistan during the war of succession of 1971. One of the first acts of the current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, after taking office in 2009 was to set up a court to try war crimes. Leading figures from the Jamaat were sentenced to imprisonment or hanging.
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