Mohammedan Sporting Club director Lokman has siphoned off most of the ill-gotten money to Australia, says RAB
For the past year and a half, Mohammedan Sporting Club Director-in-Charge, Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan, has been collecting Tk70,000 in rent for a club room leased out for an illegal casino operation.
According to Lokman, he received the money from Awami Jubo League leader and Dhaka South City Corporation’s Ward No 9 Councillor, AKM Mominul Haque Sayeed, for cooperating with him in running the illegal gambling establishment.
As rent, Lokman, also the reputable sporting club’s general secretary, has been receiving Tk2,100,000 every month since the casino went into operation in early 2018.
Lokman is currently worth around Tk43 crore, of which Tk2 crore is in real estate assets. He has siphoned off most of the cash to two banks in Australia.
All this information was provided by Lt Col Ashik Billah, the commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 2, at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon following the arrest of Lokman in the early hours of the same day.
According to RAB Commander Billah, during preliminary interrogation Lokman also confessed to actively running the illegal casino inside Mohammedan club, in cooperation with Ward 9 Councillor Sayeed, and sending him money.
Following Lokman’s arrest in possession of contraband liquor, from his Monipuripara home in Tejgaon, RAB also started a Narcotics Control Act case against him at Tejgaon police station on Thursday.
Lt Col Billah said they also handed Lokman over to the police station, which the station’s OC Md Shamim-or-Rashid Talukder confirmed, saying: We are investigating the case."
The RAB official also said they would consider filing a money laundering case against Lokman after further investigation of the ill gotten casino earnings he siphoned off abroad.
He said Lokman went into hiding and stayed in various places, including Narayanganj, after police raided the sporting club last Sunday.
“Acting on a tip-off, we raided his home last night and arrested him with four bottles of illegal liquor,” he added.
Casino operating for over a year
The casino inside the club was up and running for the past one and a half years at least, once Lokman helped clear a resolution by the club’s managing body using his influence, Lt Col Billah said.
He said Lokman, a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director, and Jubo League leader Sayeed, are very good friends.
“Sayeed holds no post in Mohammedan club, so Lokman used his influence to rent out a room to Sayeed for Tk70,000 a day in rent. Apart from that, Lokman also got a percentage of the money earned at the casino.
“The rest of the money was under Sayeed’s control and went to him,” said the RAB official.
RAB is now trying to find out whether any other members of the sporting club’s management committee were involved in the illegal gambling operation.
However, RAB is still investigating whether Lokman kept all the money or if it went to the club too.
Lt Col Billah said Lokman’s son studies in Australia and the man has visited the country several times over the years. “We suspect he siphoned off most of the ill gotten money to two banks — ANZ Bank and Commonwealth Bank — in Australia, during his visits.”
Asked whether Jubo League’s Dhaka south unit President, Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat, was involved with the casino in the Mohammedan Sporting Club, he said: “We did not get any information in that regard while interrogating Lokman.”
Asked about Sayeed’s whereabouts and action taken against him, the RAB 2 CO said: “We have received some information about him. We are working on it.”
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Who is Lokman?
According to sources, Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan has served in various positions at Mohammedan Sporting Club for at least 25 to 26 years, before becoming both its director-in-charge and general secretary.
Lokman, originally from Noakhali, used to be a member of the BNP central committee, sources said. Media reports said he also worked as a bodyguard of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for a while.
At the time, he formed good relationships with some top tier leaders of the party. Later, he first emerged as an organizer at the Brothers Union club, and then entered Mohammedan Sporting Club with BNB leader Mosaddak Ali Falu’s recommendation.
Lokman was however expelled from the party after he joined the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) as a director.
Even though BNP was not in power, he managed to gradually strengthen his position at the Mohammedan Club, a decades old club with a long history and tradition.
Some club officials held Lokman responsible for setting up the illegal casino inside the club last year.
Requesting anonymity, they said Lokman became richer and richer soon after the casino went into operation.