Around 275 people were arrested during the raids
It all happened out of the blue. Right in the afternoon of September 18 last year, a massive clampdown went underway against illegal casinos in Dhaka in a landmark event in the country’s law and order.
Investigators have confiscated Tk440 crore in connection with the casino business.
To date, charge-sheets in 21 cases filed in this regard have been submitted, while 11 cases are being investigated.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has also filed 22 cases against the casino suspects over amassing illegal wealth, which are being still investigated, officials said.
Also Read - RAB cracks down on illegal casinos
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was tasked with investigating 14 casino-related cases, most of them filed under the narcotics and firearms legislation. Charge-sheets in all the cases except one have been submitted.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police is scrutinizing 13 cases, mostly related to money laundering and embezzlement. Charges were pressed in eight of the cases.
The CID Chief, Additional Inspector General Barrister Mahbubur Rahman, said: “We have already seized and deposited Tk34.92 crore in the national exchequer.”
“Plus, Tk405.46 crore in different bank accounts of the accused has been frozen as we arrested 44 people in the 13 cases we are probing. We also received information about land and flats owned by the accused,” he said.
The remaining five cases, he said, were in the final stage. “We are optimistic about completing the investigation soon,” the CID chief said.
“We are inquiring about a few more incidents. Inquiries have to be made before filing a case under the Money Laundering Prevention Act. We see that a few more cases will be filed. We are getting a lot of evidence,” Mahbubur Rahman said.
Progress made so far
The law enforcement agencies said they had conducted operations against approximately 50 casinos and anti-corruption operations over the last one year. Of the operations, RAB conducted 30 raids, the Narcotics Control Department conducted one and police the rest.
Sources said that around 275 people were arrested during the raids. Most of the arrestees were leaders of various front organizations of the ruling Awami League. Among them were six leaders of the Jubo League, three councillors of Dhaka city, and one Krishak League leader. RAB arrested 236 people and filed 32 cases over the last one year.
Also Read - Casinos: Right under the nose of police
A total of 22 firearms, 277 rounds of ammunition, about Tk8.45 crore in cash, including a huge amount of foreign currency, different bank FDR Tk166.27 crore, 135 different bank cheque books, Tk11.77 crore of bank cheques, around 8kg gold, narcotics and gambling equipment were recovered during the operations, said RAB officials.
During this period, RAB raided 11 casinos and clubs.
The clubs are Fakirapul Young Men's Club, Dhaka Wanderers Club, Muktijoddha Chitto Bonodon Club, Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra, Golden Dhaka Bangladesh, Kalabagan Krira Chakra, Dhanmondi Club, Fu-Wang Club, Muktijoddha Club of Chittagong, Abahani Club of Chittagong and Mohammedan Club of Chittagong.
The law enforcement agencies arrested Ismail Chowdhury Samrat, former president of Jubo League's Dhaka South City, Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, former organizing secretary of the same unit, GK Shamim, a claimed to be a Jubo League leader and an influential contractor, Selim Pradhan, who ran an online casino, and leaders of the Awami League's Gandaria Thana unit Enamul Haque Enu and Rupon Bhuyian over their alleged involvement in money laundering, narcotics and counterfeit currency.
The sources also said that many people went into hiding after the start of the casino raid. Some have gone into hiding in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India.
There are 30 to 35 people, including Mominul Haque Saeed, expelled organizing secretary of Jubo League Dhaka Metropolitan South; Mizanur Rahman, central member; former president of Chhatra League Dhaka Metropolitan North SM Rabiul Islam Sohel; Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra leaseholder Ali Ahmed and Delwar Hossain alias Delut from Gulistan who returned home after the raids ended.
Meanwhile, Shafiqul Alam Firoz, president of Kalabagan Sports Club, and Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan, director of Mohammedan Club, who were arrested in the raid, have been released on bail.
What the authorities say
RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Lt Col Ashik Billah told Dhaka Tribune that RAB was investigating 14 cases. Of these, charge-sheets in 13 cases had been submitted to the court.
When asked whether the drive had slowed down, he said that RAB’s work in anti-casino operations was successful.
Also Read - Jubo League leader Shamim caught with cash, FDRs
“We have closed all the casinos. We have arrested many in connection with the casino business and many are under our surveillance,” he said.
RAB is investigating people whose names came up during inquiry. “If we find their involvement in any way, legal action will be taken against them,” the RAB official added.
ACC filed 22 cases
Meanwhile, the ACC has filed 22 cases against 27 people. It is now investigating these people for amassing illegal wealth.
The ACC has also been enquiring about the wealth of over 100 people in connection with the casino business. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its enquiry has been in a state of stagnation for the last few months.
The leader of the enquiry team, ACC Director Syed Iqbal Hossain, told Dhaka Tribune that his team had been working hard on these cases and enquiries.
He said the ACC would submit charge-sheets in some of the cases soon. Besides, it might file some new cases as well.