Banker turns racketeer | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:03 AM, January 01, 2021

Banker turns racketeer

Made crores of taka by leaking question papers of tests for university admission, bank jobs: CID

He drives a Nissan X-Trail and lives in a duplex with foreign fittings in Keshorhat village of Rajshahi's Mohanpur, where such luxuries raise quite a few eyebrows.

Senior Officer Manik Kumar Pramanik of Agrani Bank Ltd in Rajshahi made crores of taka at the age of 38 not from his service, but from under the table deals.

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He was one of the masterminds behind a racket involved in leaking question papers of different university admission and bank recruitment tests, according to the Criminal Investigation Department.

His misdeeds came to light after the CID recently arrested six people, including Manik, following an investigation into a Dhaka University admission test question leak.

A case was filed regarding the leak with Tejgaon Police Station in 2018.

The investigators said not only Manik, but also two-three high officials, working at important government agencies, were also involved in the racket.

"We are trying to arrest the others involved in this racket," Kamrul Ahsan, additional DIG of CID Cyber Police, told a press briefing at its headquarters in the capital's Malibagh yesterday.

The CID officials, who raided the Keshorhat duplex on December 30, were stunned to see Manik's assets. The house is fitted with pricey tiles and marbles. Large screen TV was in the living room. Tempered glass was fitted on the ceiling.

They said the duplex was worth Tk 4-5 crore.

The law enforcement agency found a vault with a good amount of gold ornaments. Besides, they found four diaries where Manik wrote down the money he took from applicants to help them get into universities or banks.

So far, the CID has got cheques worth Tk 3.39 crore. The amount may increase, the officials said.

Apart from the duplex, Manik also owns a mango orchard.

Owning such huge assets is not normal for a person coming from a middle-class family, the officials opined.

One of his two siblings is a doctor and the other one runs a grocery shop.

The grocery shop -- M/S Reba Traders -- maintains an account with Agrani Bank Ltd. Some transactions through the account are dubious, said a CID official, adding that they are looking into the transactions.

THE RACKET

The CID was investigating a case filed by SM Kamrul Ahsan, chief security officer of Dhaka University, with Tejgaon Police Station after a student, Nafiul Islam Tahsin, was found cheating in the DU "Ka" unit admission tests in 2018 at Tejgaon Government Science College. Nafiul was arrested at that time.

Following the case, the CID arrested Rakibul Hasan Shanto, 25, a former DU student and Janata Bank official, Hasan Mahmud, 22, who allegedly provided answers to the questions, and his cousin Rasheduzzaman Sajib, 36, an English teacher at Saifur's coaching centre.

The three gave confessional statements before a Dhaka court recently.

Based on Shanto's statements, the CID conducted drives in Rajshahi on December 30 and arrested Manik and two of his accomplices -- Shafiqul Islam, 30, and Ripon Kumar, 26.

So far, the racket has been found involved in allowing people to cheat in six admission and bank recruitment tests -- twice in combined job exams of seven banks and twice in DU "A" unit entry tests in 2017 and 2018 and once in Bangladesh Bank job tests, said investigators.

Recently, Shafiqul, for Manik, collected Tk 12-14 lakh from each of eight people for bank jobs, said an investigator.

The official said the racket managed the whole process in three ways -- getting students interested, getting people who would provide answers to the questions, and exam centre management.

"For each centre, they used to allocate Tk 2 lakh to manage some unscrupulous people, including teachers, to overlook their activities so that they can operate their activities smoothly," the official added.

After collecting interested applicants, they created a WhatsApp group.

Some 10-15 minutes before the exams began, the racket used to get the question paper. Instantly, an applicant or a teacher sent the question paper to the WhatsApp group.

The people involved in providing answers to the questions then took charge.

"Within 15 minutes, the whole questions had answers," said a CID official.

The CID said the racket made a hefty amount doing this for several years.

Manik was placed on a three-day remand, while Shafiqul and Ripon were granted a one-day remand yesterday.

After further probe, a money laundering case will also be filed against them, said the CID.

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