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AL leaders sued for illegal wealth

  • Published at 09:24 pm August 21st, 2014
AL leaders sued for illegal wealth

Two years ago, Cox’s Bazar Awami League lawmaker Abdur Rahman Badi purchased a 0.6 decimal land in Teknaf upazila for nearly Tk42 lakh. Documents show that eight months later, he sold that land for Tk2.4 crore, which was nearly five times higher than the purchase price.

According to the local land office in Teknaf, the current market price of 0.6 decimal land in that area can be Tk6 lakh at best.

In February this year, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) sought a statement of wealth from Badi where he showed that his family owned tangible and intangible assets worth a little over Tk5.20 crore.

However, the income tax return that he submitted in November 2013 shows that the value of their  assets was more than Tk16.06 crore.

Although he told the ACC in the wealth statement that he had acquired the assets with income generated from his “export-import” business, he could not produce any valid document when investigators went to him. The ACC thinks that he has hidden assets worth more than Tk10 crore.

Yesterday, the graft buster filed a case against the incumbent ruling party lawmaker on charges of accumulating illegal wealth beyond his known source of income.

In February, Badi challenged the ACC saying he would step down as an MP if the investigators could prove that he had laundered even a single penny or concealed information about wealth in his election affidavit.

According to the affidavit that Badi had filed with the Election Commission before the January 5 election, his net asset was Tk49.79 lakh in 2008, which rose to Tk15.57 crore in 2013 at the end of his five year term as a lawmaker.

The ACC yesterday also sued two former state ministers from the ruling Awami League’s immediate past cabinet on similar charges.

In January this year, the commission initiated an inquiry against seven ruling party leaders comprising one former minister, two state ministers, three current lawmakers and one former lawmaker, in order to trace the sources of phenomenal rise in their wealth during the party’s 2008-13 tenure.

As inquiry teams found evidence that the three Awami League leaders had accumulated illegal wealth, in a regular meeting yesterday morning, the ACC approved filing the cases. Later in the day, ACC Deputy Directors Khairul Huda, Nasir Uddin and Muhammad Abdus Subhan filed three separate cases with Ramna police station in the capital against Badi, former state minister for water resources Mahbubur Rahman and former statement minister housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan.

Of them, Mahbubur was reelected from Patuakhali but Mannan lost in the January 5 parliamentary election.

According to the first information report (FIR) of one of the cases filed by the ACC yesterday, former junior minister Mahbubur Rahman accumulated illegal wealth worth over Tk5.19 crore and concealed information about more than Tk1.24 crore.

Analysing records, the ACC investigator found that he had failed to provide the relevant records in support of the wealth shown in his affidavit.

The commission has also found that his wealth expanded more than 12 times in five years – from Tk51 lakh in 2008 to Tk6.35 crore in 2013.

The state of the third case filed yesterday shows that former state minister Abdul Mannan Khan has concealed information about wealth worth Tk4.60 lakh and has accumulated illegal wealth worth Tk75.04 lakh.

The anomalies came up after the ACC investigator analyzed his wealth statements, income tax returns and other relevant records.

When the Election Commission published the candidates’ wealth statements before of the January 5 poll, media reports highlighted massive discrepancies in the affidavits.

Later, citizens’ platform Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik, better known as Sujon, analysed the wealth statements and found that the incomes of the candidates rose by 32.98% in five years.

Ministers’ incomes and wealth increased by 243% and 247% respectively, while those of state ministers rose by 464% and 459% respectively.

Will Badi resign?

Abdur Rahman Badi, a ruling party lawmaker from the Cox’s Bazar 4 constituency, have made news many times before for making sarcastic remarks, beating journalists or his alleged involvement in Yaba trade.

When the ACC first made the move to initiate an investigation into the meteoric rise in his wealth, he claimed that the allegations were baseless and were intended to tarnish his political image.

“Some journalists, in collusion with the opposition party, have published negative reports against me to tarnish my image,” he said at that time. “I belong to a family of businessmen and I did not whiten any black money; rather I ran my businesses and paid taxes properly,” he told journalists.

According to section 26(2) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2004, if any person, after having received notice from the ACC, fails to furnish the information or provides any false or baseless information, then that person will be sentenced to a prison term of up to three years or a fine or both.

Section 27(1) of the same act says if there are sufficient and reasonable grounds to believe that a person has obtained ownership of property through dishonest means which is not consistent with known sources of income, then that person will be sentenced to minimum three to maximum ten years’ imprisonment and the properties will be confiscated.

The Dhaka Tribune tried repeatedly to contact Badi over phone; but he answered none of the calls until filing of this report around 9:30pm yesterday.