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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has now launched investigation into allegations of money laundering, amassing illegal wealth and suspicious bank transactions against eight BNP leaders, reports The Daily Prothom Alo.

The anti-corruption watchdog has launched the investigation barely two months after a court sent the chief of country’s main opposition political party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and former prime minister Khaleda Zia to jail in a graft case filed by the ACC.

Another case filed by ACC is pending against her. Besides, some 25 BNP leaders are facing graft cases filed by ACC.

The BNP leaders against whom the ACC launched the investigation are: standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and Mirza Abbas, two vice chairmen Abdul Awal Mintoo and M Morshed Khan, joint secretary general and BNP’s Dhaka city’s south unit president Habibun-nabi Khan Sohel and Mintoo’s son and executive committee member Tabith Awal.

ACC has also initiated investigation against Morshed Khan’s son Faisal Morshed Khan.

ACC officials said the body entrusted one of its deputy directors, Shamsul Alam, with the investigation against the BNP.

They said the ACC would send letters to banks concerned by this week, seeking information about the respective persons and would also ask the BNP leaders to submit their wealth statements.

ACC officials said the organisation has launched the investigation after some media outlets, quoting intelligence sources, published news reports that “suspicious transactions” of as much as Tk 1.25 billon was made in 30 days’ time in the bank accounts of these BNP leaders.

They said most of those whose bank account records show “unusual money withdrawal” are businessmen and the volume of transactions is not unusual either, but the withdrawal was made in cash which, ACC officials said, has created suspicions.

The ACC would check if the money was spent other than on business purposes.

ACC officials said allegations have it that Abdul Awal Mintoo withdrew some Tk 320 million on 11, 15 and 22 February and his son Tabith Awal withdrew some Tk 200 million in the same month.

Morshed Khan withdrew Tk 180 million on 27 February while his son Faisal withdrew Tk 90 million on 26 February.

It is alleged that some Tk 210 million was withdrawn from the bank account of Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain from 3 to 12 March and some of the money was withdrawn from outside Dhaka.

ACC is also claiming that some Tk 160 million was withdrawn from the account of Mirza Abbas on 28 February and 4 March.

It is also being alleged that Tk 70 million was withdrawn from the bank accounts of Nazrul Islam Khan and Habibun-nabi Khan Sohel at different times.

BNP has all along been accusing the Anti-Corruption Commission of serving the interests of the ruling quarters.

At a press conference on 21 March, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged that ACC is like a one-eyed animal.

BNP standing committee member Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain said, “The ACC has launched this investigation based on the reports published in some baseless online portals. How authentic are those reports? Neither me nor my family members have any account with that bank.”

Terming the move purely political, he lamented that the ACC has chosen to turn a blind eye to people who have misappropriated millions, especially when the ministries and the Bangladesh Bank have proofs.

Senior leader Nazrul Islam Khan said, “This is just another blueprint of the government to keep the active BNP leaders under pressure. The country knows why the ACC is after us when people who have institutionalised corruption are at large.”

“Such news was published on online portal Bangla Insider on 17 March. Everyone knows who are behind it. The ACC will now carry out an investigation based on that report. The involvement of constitutional bodies in such politicised acts is tarnishing their image, and that of the country as well,” said BNP vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo.

No ACC official was available for a comment to this end. ACC spokesperson and secretary Shamsul Arefin’s phone did not receive a call despite repeated attempts. He did not reply to a text either.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, “We hope the ACC will carry out their duties within their legal framework. If they prioritise political identity it will be a blow to their accountability.”

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