Former Faridpur Awami League leader Sajjad Hossain alias Barkat and his brother Imtiaz Hasan alias Rubel amassed Tk 2,535.11 crore beyond their known sources of income, a CID probe has found.
They did so under the shelter and with assistance of at least eight other accused in a money laundering case, including Khandaker Mohtesam Hossain Babar, brother of former minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, according to the probe by the Criminal Investigation Department.
Of the ill-gotten wealth, only Tk 9.75 crore was found in the bank accounts of Barkat, ex-general secretary of Faridpur town AL unit, and his brother Rubel, who was the president of Faridpur Press Club.
They siphoned off the rest -- over Tk 2,525 crore -- abroad, the CID mentioned in the charge sheet, submitted to a Dhaka Court yesterday, against the 10 accused in the money laundering case filed with the capital's Kafrul Police Station in June last year.
Babar, now vice-president of Faridpur district Awami League, was shown as a fugitive accused in the charge sheet.
The CID probe also found that the brothers own 5,388 bighas of land worth over Tk 392.76 crore, according to deeds.
Barkat and Rubel amassed the huge wealth since 2008 after they came close to a top Awami League leader during the elections, CID investigators said.
The other accused are Khandaker Mosharraf's assistant personal secretary and former convener of Faridpur district Jubo League AHM Fuad, former Faridpur town Jubo League president Khandakar Nazmul Islam Levi, former general secretary of Faridpur town unit Jubo League Ashiqur Rahman Farhan, General Secretaryof Faridpur District Swechchhasebak League Fahad bin Wazed Fahin alias Fahim, former joint convener of Faridpur town Jubo League Kamrul Hasan David, district Jubo League joint convener Mohammad Ali Minar, and Faridpur town Jubo League joint convenor Tariqul Islam alias Nasim.
Of them, Barkat, Rubel, Levi and Farhan are now in jail. Barkat was expelled from the AL after his arrest.
In the charge sheet, the CID said it found names of 42 other associates of Barkat and Rubel, and that investigation is still going on against them. One of them died.
"Once we get enough evidence to prove their link with the money laundering, we will submit a supplementary charge sheet," said a CID officer, wishing anonymity.
The charge sheet is 72 pages long with more than 4,500 pages of relevant documents attached to it, CID sources said.
Our court correspondent adds: Babar was shown a fugitive accused in the charge sheet of the case.
Fuad, Fahim, David, Minar and Nasim were also shown as fugitives in the charge sheet.
The names of Babar and five others were included in it as Barkat, Rubel, Farhan and Levi named them in their confessional statements to magistrates, court sources said.
Uttam Kumar Biswas, assistant superintendent of police of the CID and also the investigation officer (IO) in the case, submitted the charge sheet to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka.
The IO appealed to the court to exonerate 10 others, who were earlier arrested in connection with the case as they were not found to be involved in the money laundering.
On October 8 last year, a Dhaka court ordered the authorities concerned to freeze 88 bank accounts of five of the accused, including Barkat and Rubel, in connection with the case.
On February 25, the same court ordered the authorities to confiscate 5,706 bighas of immovable properties, freeze 188 bank accounts and seize 55 vehicles of the brothers.
On June 7 last year, police arrested nine people, including Barkat and Rubel, from different areas of Faridpur town for their alleged involvement in the attack on the house of Subal Chandra in the town's Goalchamat area on May 16 last year.
SM Miraj Al Mahmud, a CID inspector, lodged the case with Kafrul Police Station against the two brothers under the money laundering act on June 26 the same year.
According to the case statement, they amassed huge amount of wealth after winning contracts from various government departments in the district through manipulation since 2010. They were allegedly involved in drug smuggling and land grabbing. The two became owners of around 23 buses, several trucks and private cars.
CID investigators said that before 2008, Barkat and Rubel had virtually no moveable and immovable properties. They joined AL in 2009 and worked for Khandaker Mosharraf during the national election.
After Mosharraf won and became minister, they gained his confidence, the probe report mentioned.
With Mohtesam and Fuad, they established a nexus, and through an illegal syndicate manipulated all tenders of roads and highways, public works, LGED ministry, health departments, BRTA, municipalities, zila parishads, Water Development Board and medical colleges. They also illegally took commissions from various haats (markets), district land registrar's offices and extorted money in the transport sector.
With the illegally-earned money, they forced people to sell land at giveaway prices. Then they took loans of Tk 375 crore, overpricing plots of lands, investigators said.
Between 2017 and 2020, Barkat and Rubel got Tk 812-crore work orders for 475 projects from the LGED alone. Barkat and Rubel took Tk 204 crore loan against four business firms through 188 accounts in nine banks for paying security deposits for the works, the charge sheet mentioned.
Investigators said Zahidur Rahman alias Khokon Razakar, who is on death row for 1971 war crimes, is the maternal uncle of the brothers and Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Rajakar is the husband of their maternal aunt.
The two brothers were accused in a case over the murder of Faridpur district AL publicity secretary Mohiuddin Khokon in 1994, investigators said. Yet they managed to join the AL, they said.
Contacted over phone last night, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain questioned how his brother Babar could be made an accused when he did not sign any documents and was not involved in anything.
About the other accused, except for Barkat and Rubel, he said police will not be able to prove the charges against them as they are not involved in the crimes.
"They were neither given allotment of work nor did they implement the works."
Asked if Barkat and Rubel became influential after they came close to him during and after 2009, Mosharraf said, "Awami League got the Faridpur Sadar seat for the first time in 2009. Is it possible to win a seat if the number of supporters does not increase and people do not join the party?"
When his attention was drawn to Barkat and Rubel's two uncles who are war criminals, lawmaker Mosharraf asked, "Can't they get involved in AL politics if their uncles are razakars?"
Asked how the two brothers amassed such huge wealth, Mosharraf said he has no idea about it.