A new unit formed within the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is monitoring several influential individuals who have allegedly acquired crores of taka through illegal means.
ACC sources said their targets include government higher ups and other senior political figures in the country, who are accused of acquiring wealth through leasing tenders, extortion, drug businesses, and other fraudulent and criminal activities.
"We get numerous allegations against present and former ministers, state ministers and members of parliament," ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood said.
"Bribers have received the message that nobody can escape justice. There is no concession towards anyone involved in corruption."
The new unit is being led by ACC Director Mir Joynul Abedin Shibly and consists of 30 officials including two deputy directors, four assistant directors, eight deputy assistant directors, and eight watchers and constables.
The new unit is using modern technology including mobile tracking and the confiscating of computers.
There is also an ACC hotline, which regularly receives complaints against individuals in different government ministries, departments and directorates, as well as against individuals in the private sector.
ACC Commissioner (Investigation) AFM Aminul Islam said many of their lines of enquiry centre on the abuse of the government tendering process.
"We often get complaints that a Tk100 crore project has been priced at Tk150 crore,” he said. “The authorities are concerned that the rest of the money is being misappropriated. There are allegations that syndicates are formed to influence officials to loot money in various unscrupulous ways when tenders are submitted."
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and different anti-graft organizations have been advising the ACC on how to tackle high-level corrupt individuals for years.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman emphasized the importance preventing corruption in the country when presenting Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2017, in which Bangladesh placed 143rd among 180 countries ranked in descending order of corruption.
Iqbal Mahmood, meanwhile, has been urging government officials in several meetings to not bow down before the demands of influential quarters while conducting their activities, saying the ACC would protect them.
Influential people inside the net
Despite these warnings, the ACC’s new unit has already brought several influential suspects to justice.
They include Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, the former deputy minister of land and ex-BNP member of parliament in Natore who is accused of acquiring government tender by abusing his power. He has also been accused of illegally collecting Tk500 in taxes imposed on local businesses.
Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, Awami League MP of Khulna-2 constituency, has been accused of using his family influences to grab the activities of a Khulna City Corporation contractor in order to obtain money. He was also accused of conducting drug businesses.
Asadaul Habib, meanwhile, was said to acquire thousands of crores through government tenders by abusing his powers in Lalmonirhat and Rangpur districts during BNP-Jamaat alliance.
“We will decide on what kind of actions will be taken against them after completing the investigations,” ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood said.