A travel ban has been issued against six corrupt suspects, including Whip Shamsul Haque Chowdhury, so that they cannot flee the country amid the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission into their ‘illegal’ wealth.
A Dhaka court has issued the ban after an ACC inquiry officer submitted a petition on June 7, mentioning that the accused may flee the country during the investigation into the allegations of corruption against them.
Judge KM Emrul Kayesh of Dhaka Senior Special Judge passed the order after the ACC sought the ban on travel of the six persons, mentioning that the accused are trying to leave the country.
A directive was sent to the Special Branch (SB) of Police, the Department of Immigration on June 13 regarding the travel ban against the six graft suspects.
The five others are lawmakers Moazzem Hossain Ratan of Sunamganj-1 and Nurunnabi Chowdhury Shawon of Bhola-3, Housing and Public Works Ministry’s joint chief Sazzadul Islam, former additional chief engineer Md Abdul Hai and Abul Kalam Azad of Dhaka Wanderers Club.
On September 30, 2019, the anti-graft watchdog launched a probe against those who amassed illegal wealth from the illicit casino business.
The names of a number of people, including Whip Shamsul Haque, came to the attention of the ACC when it launched the inquiries following the crackdown against illegal casinos and money launderers.
An allegation is rife that the amounts of wealth of whip Shamsul Haque increased by 1,546 percent.
Earlier, on October 23, 2019, the ACC issued a travel ban against 22 persons, including whip Shamsul Haque, MP Nurnnabi, engineer Abdul Hai and Abul Kalam Azad.
The ACC sent a letter to the Immigration Department, asking to take effective measures so they cannot flee the country.
According to sources, Shamsul Haque and his family members have come to the fore due to various allegations of corruption.
Inquiry is also going on against the whip’s son Nazmul Karim Chowdhury Sharun and other family members on charges of corruption.
ACC Director Syed Iqbal Hossain said, “The ACC earlier imposed a ban on travel of several persons, including Shamsul, after the casino business issue had come to the fore. The High Court directed that the permission should be taken for issuing a travel ban.”
Following the directive from the High Court, the ACC sought the court order on the travel ban against them and the court accepted the petition, he said.
The ACC official also informed that a probe into amassing of illegal wealth by whip Shamsul is also going on and a team of the commission is working on this issue.”
When contacted, Whip Shamsul and Shawon did not respond to the phone calls. However, Moazzem Hossain said, “I don’t know anything about the court order yet.”
The court in its order said a probe is going on against them that they got contracts of mega projects through giving bribe to government officials and embezzled money through irregularities.
There are also allegations that they owned hundreds of crores of taka through casino business and amassed illegal wealth beyond known sources of income.
The inquiry officer mentioned in his application that the information obtained during the probe is likely to be true.
The IO has learned from secret sources that the accused, including whip Shamsul, are trying to flee the country and the probe is likely to be prolonged or hampered for this.
Sources said that the directive of the court has already reached the immigration police.
Whip Shamsul had created controversy after criticising the anti-casino countrywide drive conducted by the Rapid Action Battalion.
“A raid was conducted on Chattogram Abahani for three to four hours. The image of the club had been tarnished due to the drive by the RAB. Such a drive should be conducted after getting confirmed information if any club operates casino business and gambling commercially,” he said.
A police officer lodged a complaint that Whip Shamsul earned Tk 180 crore by gambling in Chattogram Abahani Club. After the complaint, that police official was suspended.
Protesting the heinous activities of Shamsul, Muktijuddha Mancha burnt his effigy on September 27.
At a human chain programme on the Dhaka University campus, protesters also demanded removal of his parliament membership for breaching oath and violating the Constitution.
Chattogram Abahani Club football committee chairman and city Awami League unit youth and sports secretary Didalrul Alam Chowdhury alleged that Whip Shamsul earned Tk 6 lakh per day by arranging gambling at the club.
Being aggrieved over the allegation, Sharun issued a threat to kill Didarul Alam. Later, Didarul lodged a general diary with the Panchlaish police station.
The ACC has started investigation into the mastermind Shamsul’s controversial activities, including illegal casino business.
Investigation has remained stuck at the preliminary stage due to the coronavirus pandemic though his involvement with the casino business has been found.
Along with issuing the travel ban against Shamsul, the ACC asked the BFIU to provide bank details of Shamsul and his wife as they laundered huge amounts of money which has not been mentioned in the electoral affidavit documents. Investigators have quizzed Shamsul’s PA Noor Ur Rashid Chowdhury in 2019, sources said.
Once an activist of Jubo Dal and Jatiya Party, Shamsul has become millionaire just after becoming a lawmaker of Awami League in 2008 and he and his wife’s wealth increased 1,546 times, according to the affidavits.
During the national election in 2008, he had only Tk 50,000 and he had started electioneering by taking loan of Tk 550,000 from his brother-in-law.
According to the affidavit, Shamsul had only Tk 1,369 cash in his hand and his wife had no wealth at that time.
Although total value of his wealth was Tk 21,76,369 in 2008 but his wealth increased 530 times in 2014 while his wife became millionaire.
He later spent some Tk 2 million in the 2014 polls and some Tk 4.12 million was in his bank accounts.
He had a private car in 2008 but he started using a car worth Tk 6.2 million in 2014 and he started constructing a palace at Rashidabad village in Patia at the same time.
According to the 2018 affidavit, Shamsul and his wife have some Tk 3.2 million land property and Tk 2.7 million ‘dollar currency’. Shamsul has some Tk 9.3 million and his wife has deposits of Tk 1.7 million in the banks.
Prices of their wealth, including bond, electronic and jewelry items, also increased to Tk 5 lakh but they mentioned it in the affidavit with a name only value.
Shamsul has also shown construction cost of the palace as Tk 4.9 million but the actual cost is at least several crores. Riajuddin Bazar is a highly commercial area in Chattogram. He has shown the price of 3,600 square-foot four-storey commercial places at Tk 2,80,000 which is a blatant forgery.
Sources said the price of commercial places is at least several crores.