DUSHANBE, August 16, 2016, Asia-Plus -- Online news outlet TojNews reported on August 11 that deputy chairman at Tojik Sodirot Bonk (TSB), Firdavs Berdiyev, had fled the country to Switzerland.

There are a few theories circulating about Berdiyev’s flight, according to the website.  One is that he has made himself scarce for fear of being made target of criminal investigation, possibly over the bank’s slow-motion meltdown.  Another is that he has left in a mutual agreement with the bank’s management.

Workers at TSB, which is Tajikistan’s second largest commercial bank, Berdiyev was suspended from his post before his departure, TojNews reported.

TSB has declined to comment on the report, leaving the banker’s whereabouts in doubt.

Meanwhile, people in Berdiyev’s inner circle have told EurasiaNet.org that he is currently in New York, supposedly in talks to drum up investment in TSB and a daughter institution of the bank from New York-based Citibank.

“Berdiyev is the deputy chairman and deals with investments,” the source close to the banker told EurasiaNet.org . “In relation to this position, he has spent the last month and a half on business trips. He has been in Moscow and in European countries, and now he is in the United States.  On [August] 20, he should be back in Dushanbe.  If he wanted to flee, he would have taken out his family first, but all his relatives are still in Dushanbe.  The rest of the management at TSB is also in Tajikistan.”

Then again, what interest Citibank could possibly have in investing in a deeply indebted bank halfway across the world in the former Soviet Union’s poorest economy is anybody’s guess.

Berdiyev is not the only top official at TSB to perform disappearing tricks.

Former chairman and part-owner of the bank, Tojidin Pirzoda, has not been seen around Dushanbe since the third week of May. That was around the time bne Intellinews was reporting that TSB had discussed a possible cash injection with officials from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in exchange for a 50 percent equity stake.  While the National Bank continues to brief that this deal is very much settled bar the formalities, there have been no significant concrete developments on this front.

Pirzoda’s relatives have told reporters only that while he is in Tajikistan, he is not in Dushanbe.

Tajik central bank sidelined Pirzoda and six of his deputies from the bank in mid-May and installed a temporary crisis administration.

There is the suggestion that TSB is being gently allowed to fail to make way for other rival lenders on the market — namely Spitamen Bank, which is said by sources to belong to a very high-placed official in National Bank, according to EurasiaNet.org .