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The puzzle has many pieces

  • Published at 12:03 am October 17th, 2019
Casino
A game of deception. DHAKA TRIBUNE

The casino fiasco is far from being solved

There are many pieces to the casino puzzle that have recently been cracked. According to media reports, the existence of some 60 of them has been identified, and some persons found to have been behind their existence have been arrested based on evidence recovered. 

The evidence is both physical elements, as well as that obtained through initial grilling of personnel present and running the gambling, as well as raids on homes and offices. Ideally, all employees found present should have been arrested, but obviously the law enforcers, in this case RAB, had their own plans of gathering information as well as apprehending the lynchpins.

All of this made the headlines, but it is now that the major work begins. These are all related to a series of questions, the answers to which should reveal even more staggering facts. There should be, through the CCTV footage, evidence of those in power and position that frequented these places. Some form of written information should exist that can set in to motion the paper trail that should lead to identifying individuals who made payoffs and  those that took them.

This includes seeking the source of massive investments behind fixed deposits. The average individual has a long list of questions to answers when buying bonds and FDRs. Answers should also be sought to the huge amounts of cash that has been seized in these raids.

The puzzle can’t be solved without knowing the wealth and assets of those apprehended and those under investigation, especially the source of income. That’s where the National Board of Revenue comes in. The NBR also has to answer how gambling implements were imported and released from customs. 

The leads from here bring in the Anti-Corruption Commission, seeking answers to the lifestyles and assets accumulated by the law enforcers, especially policemen working at police stations literally within walking distance of the casinos, though most of them deny even the knowledge of the casinos in existence. Police have their informers and the information cannot but have been undisclosed.

The NBR is now asking questions of customs intelligence to know how such items were imported. Banks too have to answer to the LCs through which this happened and whether there has been false information related to the items in question. The Home Ministry will have to answer for the alleged Nepalese citizens that entered the country on visit visas and then began working to operate the casinos. 

There’s also the element of police personnel caught on CCTV helping the Nepalese flee their homes, and in all probability, assisted in leaving the country. Given there is enough paper work on visitors entering and exiting the country, the Bangladesh High Commission can take up the matter in seeking the Nepali government to extradite these individuals once charges have been filed. These actions have to be swift in order to be effective.

As always, the FIR is crucial for proper justice to be handed out. From what the media has reported, some of the cases filed so far contain allegations that have only short-term jail sentences. The raids are serving their purpose and the Home Ministry has been alerted to instruct immigration officials to keep strict vigilance so that the perpetrators do not flee the country. 

Side by side, the time is rife for the NBR to examine the tax files of the leaders of both the Chhatra and Jubo League to know of their wealth and sources of earning. That’s where another factor becomes entwined. The statement made by the VC of Jahangirnagar University that a Tk1cr deposit has been made to the Central Students Union from the university’s development budget should be examined to expose the veracity.

All in all, the puzzle needs a coordinator that can string together a truly collective cooperation between agencies to arrive at the truth. If the trail leads to members of parliament, the speaker’s permission must be sought before any of them can be quizzed. That’s where the NBR also has to be in action, the PM has been categorical in saying none are to be spared and this could lead to a host of government officials being booked and quizzed. Permission required as per government regulations ought to be forthcoming quickly enough and foreign travel for identified individuals restricted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Here too, the NBR comes into play in terms of details of source of funds for wards sent abroad for education. In a way, it’s a hornet’s nest if the Pandora’s box is opened in earnest. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.