They defrauded 6,000 patients
An organised crime gang, in line with the instructions from Regent Hospital Chairman Mohammad Shahed, played a role in spreading Covid-19 virus in the country by preparing fake test reports, a Rab probe has found.
Shahed had formed two teams for collecting samples for Covid testing and preparing fake reports without carrying out tests.
This was revealed in the charge sheet, filed with Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka on March 29, in a fraud case. Md Nazmul Haque, Rab-1 senior assistant superintendent of police and also the investigation officer of the case, filed the report.
Shahed has been named as the prime accused in the charge sheet. The other 13 charge-sheeted accused are: Masud Parvez, Torikul Islam Shibli, Ahsan Habib Majumdar, Hatem Ali, Rakibul Islam Sumon, Abdus Salam, Abdur Rashid Khan Jewel, Amit Banik Kajol, Mizanur Rahman, Shimul Parvez, Dipayon Basu, Shaykhul Islam Saikat, and Polash Ali, employees of Regent Hospital.
Of the 14, 10 are now behind bars.
The names of two other accused, Ahsan Habib Hasan and Mahbub Hossain Mollah, were not included in the charge sheet as the investigation officer did not find any evidence against Ahsan and Mahbub's real name and address could not be confirmed.
The Daily Star has recently obtained a copy of the charge sheet.
Soon after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Regent Hospital on March 21 last year, two teams of the hospital started preparing fake reports and supplying those to suspected Covid patients. They did the job as per instructions given by Shahed, the IO said in his probe report.
Four accused -- Sumon, Polash, Torikul Shibli and Amit Banik -- collected some 200 samples in a day and 50 of those were sent to National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (Nipsom) for testing. About 150 fake reports were prepared against the rest of the samples, the charge sheet said.
Mahbub, Shimul Parvez and Saikat prepared fake reports, scanning the signatures of the technicians at Nipsom's pathology and lab, it added.
The investigator said the accused supplied Covid positive reports to those who showed symptoms of high body temperature, cold, cough and throat pain. However, Covid negative reports were issued to those who showed no such symptoms.
Although the MoU stressed treating patients for free, Shahed collected Tk 3,500-Tk 4,000 from each person. Thus, the hospital chairman in collusion with other accused pocketed about Tk 3 to 4 crore defrauding some 6,000 patients, said the charge sheet.
On February 4 last year, Shahed appointed one Mizanur Rahman to Uttara branch of Regent Hospital. Mizanur and other accused, in line with Shahed's instructions, carried out illegal activities, causing harm to public health.
Shahed on June 1 last year filed an application with the DGHS, showing his free treatment expenditure of Tk 1.96 crore. He did not return various diagnostic instruments to the government, the charge sheet said.
The hospital chairman is a very cunning, greedy and cruel man. He did not bother about life and death of patients when it came to pocketing money, the IO said.
In the charge sheet, 40 people have been named as prosecution witnesses.
On July 7 last year, the case was filed against Shahed and 15 others over issuing fake Covid test reports and charging people unfairly for testing and treatment.
Shahed was arrested in Satkhira on July 15 when he was trying to leave the country by a boat.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in an arms case on September 28 last year.
On August 18, 2010, he was sentenced to six month's imprisonment and fined Tk 53 lakh by a court in absentia in a cheque dishonour case.