Embezzlement of Public Money: Tk 92 lakh recovered
His job was to ensure proper distribution of the compensation meant for land acquisition but he took it as an opportunity to make money.
On January 17, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case with Kishoreganj Model Police Station, accusing Setaful Islam, former land acquisition officer at the district's deputy commissioner's office, of misappropriating Tk 5 crore.
On Tuesday night, the ACC recovered Tk 92 lakh of that amount raiding the house of one of the Setaful's accomplices, said the corruption watchdog.
However, according to an inquiry by the deputy commissioner's office in the district, Setaful allegedly embezzled Tk 8.7 crore meant for people whose land was acquired by the government for various development projects.
It is not clear exactly how much money was “embezzled” by the person.
Some of his seniors were his partners in crime, said ACC sources quoting Setaful's confessional statement before a district court.
Aided by local police and a magistrate, one of the teams from the ACC raided the house of Mohammad Saiduzzaman, an auditor at Kishoreganj district accounts office, and recovered Tk 92 lakh from there, said the ACC.
“They [those involved in the crime] withdrew Tk 5 crore from the bank and shared it among themselves,” said ACC Assistant Director Abdul Wadud.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to find out more,” he said.
When the four-member ACC team entered Saiduzzaman's one-storey building near Char Khurshid Playground around 11:00pm, they had information about a huge sum of money kept hidden there. They gleaned the information from Saiduzzaman, who was arrested earlier.
While combing the house, one of the ACC members noticed two cement bags on a concrete shelf at a corner of Saiduzzaman's bedroom. The money was found inside the bags, Wadud said.
The ACC gave the money to the DC of Kishoreganj following permission from a district court.
Talking to The Daily Star, DC Sarwar Morshed Chowdhury said his office carried out an internal probe against Setaful and found that he had embezzled Tk 8.7 crore from the land acquisition fund.
“We prepared a report and submitted it to the divisional commissioner's office in December,” he said, adding Setaful was transferred to Pirojpur Deputy Commissioner's office the same month.
Receiving the transfer order, Setaful drove straight to a branch of Sonali Bank in Kishoreganj with sacks and withdrew a huge amount of cash, witnesses told investigators.
Once the matter was informed to the authorities and his colleagues, Setaful fled the scene with the money.
The amount withdrawn at the time was Tk 5 crore, according to the ACC.
According to sources at the DC office, Setaful, with the help of some of his seniors, misappropriated over Tk 10 crore from the fund.
The ACC arrested Setaful near the Pirojpur Circuit House on January 17.
“We're investigating to know whether anyone else was involved in the matter. We will include their names in the cases if we find their involvement,” Wadud said.
In his confessional statement before a judicial magistrate, Setaful said a former DC of the district and additional commissioner (revenue) were involved in the crime, reports our Mymensingh correspondent, quoting ACC sources.
The Daily Star could not reach the former DC over phone. The other person in question hung up after this correspondent told him he was a journalist.
When any land is acquired for implementing government's development projects, the land ministry recommends compensating the land owners. The compensation money is sent to the district administration before it reaches the land owner.