Blessings of syndicate | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:34 AM, January 11, 2019

Blessings of syndicate

Couple, both mere DGHS staff, bought houses in Dhaka, Sydney, finds ACC

His monthly salary is only around Tk 24,000, but he has been able to buy a house in Australia's Sydney spending more than two lakh US dollars.

His wife, whose salary is around Tk 20,000 a month, owns several buildings in the capital, said ACC sources.

The man is Abzal Hossain, administration officer at the Institute of Health Technology under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The Anti-Corruption Commission quizzed him about his wealth for about five hours yesterday.

His spouse Rubina Khanam is a stenographer of Medical Education and Health Manpower Development project under the DGHS. 

The couple in their wealth statement submitted to the ACC said they have wealth worth Tk 12 crore.

Joining as an office assistant of a project under the Directorate of Health in 1995, Abzal set up a syndicate at the health ministry and managed jobs for about seven of his relatives, including brothers and brother-in-laws, at different offices under the ministry.

“The syndicate in association with DGHS high-ups looted hundreds of crore taka,” said an ACC official, wishing anonymity.

Some DGHS directors are also members of the syndicate, said sources.

The graft watchdog on Wednesday asked two DGHS directors and an assistant director to appear before it on January 14 with their wealth statements.

They would be quizzed about the allegations of possessing wealth beyond their known sources of income, read ACC notices.

Yesterday, Abzal told the graft watchdog that he bought the house in Sydney for $0.2 million.

However, ACC Deputy Director Shamsul Alam, who led the four-member interrogation team, said the amount would be much higher.

“He transferred money from Bangladesh to Australia through informal channels to buy the house,” Shamsul told The Daily Star, adding that Abzal sent several hundred crore taka to Malaysia, Canada and the USA through informal channels.

Abzal went to Singapore at least five times for treatment and visited Australia with his family several times. His only son and two daughters studied in Australia for several years. They are now residing in Bangladesh, sources said.

The DGHS staff set up a contracting firm, Rahman Trade International, and made his wife Rubina its proprietor.

“The firm used to supply surgical equipment to government hospitals and institutions. Using this company, the couple looted public money,” said an ACC official.

During enquiry into Abzal's wealth, the graft watchdog also found that the couple owns four five-storey buildings and a plot in the capital's Uttara.

The ACC also learnt that they have several other plots and houses at different places, including Dhaka and Faridpur.

Abzal told the interrogators that he has an SUV.

The ACC has recently sent a letter to the superintendent of police of Special Branch to take steps so that the couple cannot flee the country.

In 2012, the graft watchdog had summoned Abzal for quizzing about his wealth, but he didn't appear before it.

ACC Deputy Director Shamsul said he had no idea about Abzal's no-show as he was not tasked with that enquiry at that time.

Sources said Abzal somehow managed to keep the enquiry halted.

This newspaper could not confirm which official had launched the enquiry in 2012 and why it was halted.

Despite repeated attempts, The Daily Star could not reach Abzal over the phone for comments as it was found switched off.

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