Destiny-2000 scam: Form a committee to reimburse investors
While sentencing 46 officials of Destiny-2000 to jail for money laundering, a Dhaka court yesterday ordered the government to form a committee to liquidate assets of a co-op of the company and return the money to its investors and shareholders.
The court also said the attached properties and frozen assets of 44 of the convicts would be forfeited in favour of the state and the committee would ensure that this money is given back to the investors and shareholders.
Destiny-2000 managing director Mohammad Rafiqul Amin was sentenced to 12 years and fined Tk 200 crore, in default of which he would have to serve three more years.
Company director Lt Gen (retd) M Harun-Ar-Rashid, also former army chief, was sentenced to four years and fined Tk 3.5 crore, in default of which he would have to serve six months more.
The ex-army chief was seen weeping in the courtroom yesterday. This is the first instance in Bangladesh of an army chief being convicted in a money laundering case, said Special Public Prosecutor Mir Ahmed Ali Salam.
Harun, however, will enjoy first-class division in jail.
Destiny-2000 chairman Mohammad Hossain was sentenced to 10 years and fined Tk 1.5 crore, in default of which he will serve a year more.
Destiny Agro Industries Ltd director Lt Col (retd) Didarul Alam was sentenced to eight years and fined Tk 1.5 crore, in default of which he would serve one year more.
However, the court ordered the release of Didarul as he had served more than nine years in jail.
The court did not order forfeiture of Didarul's or Harun's assets.
Destiny-2000 director Farha Diba, wife of Rafiqul Amin, was sentenced to eight years and fined Tk 40 crore, in default of which she would serve two more years.
After the verdict, Rafiqul Amin, Harun-Ar-Rashid, Mohammad Hossain, Ziaul Haque Mollah, Saidul Islam Khan, and Jesmin Akter were sent to jail with conviction warrants.
The remaining 39, including Farha Diba, were convicted in absentia.
Harun's lawyer M Mainul Islam was dissatisfied with the judgment and said they would appeal to a higher court.
The irregularities of Destiny-2000, believed to be the worst multi-level marketing scam in the country, came under the spotlight in early 2012 after the central bank found that it had been involved in illegal transactions.
Several newspapers, including The Daily Star, ran reports on massive irregularities in Destiny-2000's cooperative, tree plantation, and multilevel marketing wings.
On July 31, 2012, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case against 22 Destiny officials. On March 30, 2014, it pressed charges against 46 in connection with laundering Tk 1,861.45 crore of investors' money.
THE COURT'S OBSERVATIONS
In the verdict, Judge Shaikh Nazmul Alam of the Special Judge's Court-4 observed that the assets of Destiny Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society Limited (DMCSL), the Destiny-2000 co-op, belong to its shareholders and investors.
The properties and money forfeited in favour of the state shall be deemed as compensations for DMCSL shareholders and investors, he said.
All sorts of fine and forfeiture of properties or money in connection with this case should be disbursed by a "committee" constituted by the government, he observed.
The judge ordered the government to form a six-member committee, led by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, which would disburse the money amongst the affected shareholders and investors.
The committee would have the authority to sell the forfeited movable and immovable properties and the money would be deposited to a bank account of the committee, he said.
According to the verdict, the registrar of the Department of Co-operatives, under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, would take all necessary steps for the liquidation and winding up DMCSL.
The liquidation and winding up should take place under the guideline of the committee, it said.
The committee shall accumulate all funds begotten and make payments to the shareholders and investors in a fair and equitable manner applying prudence and sagacious decisions, the judge added.
The police commissioner of Dhaka, who had received some of the immovable or movable properties, vehicles, and income generated from those, was directed to hand those over to the committee.