Four relatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who were elected MPs in the last elections have amassed huge resources during the last five years, raising question about the influence of the Sheikh family and its relatives who apparently dominate the ruling Awami League’s policymaking.
Hasina, also the Awami League president, in parliament announced that the people should not consider anyone as her family members other than her two children, sister Sheikh Rehana and her three children.
She urged people to hand those trying to capitalise her family identity to the police. The premier also gave her mobile numbers and email addresses to inform her about such incident.
But the latest affidavits of her two cousins and two nephews submitted to the Election Commission show that for personal gains her relatives may have influenced the family identity.
Sheikh Helal Uddin (Bagerhat 1), Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury Liton (Madaripur 1) and barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh (Dhaka 12) have been elected lawmakers of the 10th Jatiya Sangsad unopposed while Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim (Gopalganj 2) is seeking re-elections.
Sheikh Helal’s income rose 11 times
In his affidavit submitted to the EC for contesting the by-polls in Bagerhat 1 constituency, which left vacant in early 2009, Sheikh Helal said his annual income from agriculture, house rent, business and others sources was Tk8,08,300.
According to the latest affidavit he turned in for contesting the January 5 polls, he said his annual income was Tk91,93,830 which is more than 11 times higher than what he had mentioned five years back.
He and his wife had around Tk31 lakh cash in hand while the bank deposit was only Tk7,325, said the 2009 affidavit. According to the latest one, their cash in hand rose to over Tk1.78 crore from the previous Tk31 lakh registering an around 600% hike.
Their bank deposit also shot up to over Tk49.48 lakh from Tk7,325 – an increase of around 700% - in five years.
Earlier, Sheikh Helal had no investment in postal and other saving certificates. At present, he has investment of Tk40 lakh in such deposit schemes.
In 2008, he had owned shares of several companies worth Tk1.6 lakh, but no plots. The couple had two vehicles valued Tk31.5 lakh. His wife had a piece of land in Joar Shahara of the capital worth Tk93,000.
However, the latest affidavit states that Sheikh Helal owns a 10 katha land in Bashundhara Residential Area in Dhaka costing over Tk2.8 crore and another 10 katha land in Purbachal worth around Tk35 lakh.
Sheikh Helal’s father-in-law has donated a 60 katha land in Bashundhara Residential Area for his wife, says the 2013 affidavit, having no mention about the value of the land.
He had liability of around Tk4.55 crore in two banks. But now he has now liabilities.
330 times higher income for Noor
The prime minister’s nephew and whip of Jatiya Sangsad, Noor and his dependents have an annual income hike of 330 times than that of the 2008.
In the 2008 affidavit, he did show the annual income to be Tk4.48 lakh from his business. Now his annual income is over Tk14.79 crore, according to the 2013 affidavit he submitted to the EC.
He earns around Tk8.9 crore and his dependents Tk3.87 crore from shrimp business every year. He also gets over Tk1.31 crore from bank interest alone.
According to the previous affidavit, his and his dependents’ bank deposit was over Tk1.65 lakh. Five years later, now his bank deposit stands at over Tk53.97 crore while his wife maintains a deposit of over Tk35.92 crore.
He has invested Tk20 crore in the newly-launched Modhumoti Bank, in which his another cousin Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh has major shares.
Noor has shares of companies worth Tk12.5 lakh and his wife over Tk81.82 lakh. She has bank investment as fixed deposit receipt of over Tk2 crore.
The monetary value of the shrimp farm and the stocks stands at around Tk8 crore. His wife has over Tk5.20 crore as investment in the shrimp business and the capital market.
Noor had been detained by the military-backed interim government in 2007-08 on corruption charges.
Taposh’s deposit sees 600% hike
Fazle Noor Taposh in his 2008 affidavit had mentioned about house rent, interest from bank deposit and saving certificates, and legal practice as the sources of income. His annual income was around Tk24 lakh – over Tk14.13 lakh from rent, Tk4.25 lakh from his profession and over Tk3.5 lakh as interest. His wife had an income of Tk2 lakh from business.
Five years later, the annual income shot up from Tk24 lakh to over Tk2.33 crore including Tk1.14 crore from profession. Soon after the Awami League formed government in January 2009, many big corporate houses turned to him to resolve legal disputes with different government agencies.
In 2013, he earns over Tk78.53 lakh while his wife Tk3 lakh from the interest against bank deposit, savings and earnings from shares. In 2008, Taposh and his dependents had around Tk96 lakh as cash.
Now, the family has over 600% more in bank deposit, Tk6.27 crore, than what he had five years back.
His family members’ investment in the bond, LC and capital market rose by 1,073 times to around Tk35.42 crore from Tk3.30 lakh mentioned in the 2008 affidavit.
The couple has Tk3.66 crore as investment in the postal and other saving schemes – 10 times than the previous amount of Tk33.77 lakh.
Taposh and his wife own two agricultural farms costing over Tk12.9 crore and over Tk1.02 core. He also owns a new apartment costing over Tk1.04 crore.
Sheikh Selim had no income in 2008
According to the latest affidavit, the prime minister’s cousin and Awami League Presidium member’s assets did not go up like the three others.
Referring to shipping business as his profession, Sheikh Selim before the 2008 elections said he had been meeting the annual expenditure from his previous income as he had no income that year.
But after five years, his statement says the income rose to over Tk26 lakh per annum, mainly from the allowance as a lawmaker of the ninth parliament. A parliament member gets over Tk1 lakh as allowance every month.
In 2008, Sheikh Selim and his wife had bank deposits of Tk3.34 lakh which has risen to around Tk1.37 crore – more than 40 times higher.
The leader, who had been the minister during the Awami League’s 1996-2001 government, and his dependents have now shares of both listed and unlisted companies worth over Tk1.39 crore. Previously his dependents had 110 shares of Air Reliance that cost Tk1.1 lakh.