Sunday, May 16, 2021

Bangladesh MP found guilty of money laundering


The Anti-Corruption Commission, the state-run graft watchdog in Bangladesh, has found evidence that Tk 148 crore was laundered by Lakshmipur-2 constituency’s independent lawmaker Mohammad Shahid Islam, his lawmaker wife, daughter and sister-in-law.

Kuwait-based businessman Shahid Islam, widely known as Kazi Shahid Islam Papul, is now facing trial as an ordinary crime-accused under Kuwaiti local laws. He is currently in jail in Kuwait.

The Kuwait government arrested Shahid Islam on June 6 on charges of human trafficking, bribing Kuwaiti officials and money laundering to other countries.

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The ACC on February 26 initiated an inquiry in Bangladesh against lawmaker Shahid Islam, also a director of NRB Commercial Bank, on charge of accumulating illegal wealth through money laundering.

The ACC inquiry was launched after a 174-page complaint was filed against him with the commission, an ACC director general told New Age on Sunday.

The names of his wife reserved-seat lawmaker Selina Islam, their daughter Kazi Wafa Islam and Selina’s sister Jesmin Akter came under commission’s surveillance later in connection with the complaint, the senior ACC official said.

He said that the commission’s inquiry officer M Salahuddin completed his inquiry into the complaint and found the evidence of money laundering by the people.

The money was laundered using an account of Jesmin Akter with NRB Commercial Bank, said the official.

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He said that after getting the necessary approval from the commission chairman, Iqbal Mahmood, and two other commissioners, AFM Aminul Islam and Md Mozammel Haque Khan, the inquiry officer would file a case against the four people as soon as possible.

In the past month, Kuwait’s media reported that  Shahid Islam and top officials of Kuwait were involved in human trafficking and money laundering.

Some top officials of the Kuwait government even used to take bribe from him.

The Al Rai newspaper of Kuwait quoted unidentified sources close to the investigations in that country as saying that the information revealed so far was just a tip of the iceberg in the case in which a number of controversial officials were likely to be implicated.

The newspaper said that the Bangladeshi lawmaker reportedly admitted that he had paid huge sums of money to a senior official at the Kuwaiti interior ministry to facilitate his business operations there.

While the ACC inquiry was under way, the commission on June 17 imposed a ban on foreign travel by Shahid Islam, Selina Islam, Wafa Islam and Jesmin Akter.

According to the ACC, the ban will take effect for Shahid after his return to Bangladesh as he was in detention in Kuwait.

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New Age failed to collect any comment from Selina Islam as she did not take the several calls made.

Asked about the matter, Jatiya Sangsad chief whip Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury told New Age that the parliament had nothing to do about the lawmaker unless he was convicted.

He said that the parliament would take measures in accordance with the constitution.

The JS has already witnessed a heated debate over the arrest of Shahid Islam as he was the first Bangladeshi lawmaker to be arrested abroad.

On July 8, prime minister Sheikh Hasina told the JS that the seat of Shahid Islam should be declared vacant if it was proven that he was also a citizen of Kuwait.

‘I don’t know whether he [Shahid] is a national of Kuwait or not. If he is a national of that country the seat will be vacant as the law does not permit dual citizenship for Bangladeshi lawmakers,’ the PM said replying to opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker M Harunur Rashid.

‘He is not an Awami League lawmaker. He sought AL nomination but we gave the seat to the Jatiya Party and as the JP candidates skipped the polls Shahid was elected from the seat as an independent candidate,’ Hasina said, adding that Shahid anyhow got his wife made a lawmaker.

A day after the prime minister’s remarks, Kuwait said that Bangladesh lawmaker Shahid Islam was not a citizen of that country and the reports of his obtaining Kuwaiti citizenship were ‘not correct.’

Reportedly, Lakshmipur-2 former lawmaker Mohammad Noman quit the election field in the 2018 national polls in support of independent candidate Shahid Islam in exchange for a huge amount of money from the latter.

After Shahid Islam came into the discussion, the Jatiya Party on June 28 relieved him as its presidium member.


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