GCC ex-mayor embezzled Tk 2.6cr from GCC coffer
Suspended Gazipur mayor Jahangir Alam embezzled Tk 2.6 crore of city corporation money using a fake city corporation bank account.
The irregularities were mentioned in a letter submitted to the senior secretary of the local government division in January this year.
The account was opened with Premier Bank's Konabari branch on February 25, 2020, with Jahangir as the sole signatory. The ex-mayor and his accomplices withdrew the money deposited by four companies in GCC fees and taxes.
The amounts were deposited between February 25, 2020, and December 22, 2021, and the money -- Tk 2.6 crore -- was withdrawn with six cheques by December 22, 2021.
The GCC registrar, however, has no record of the money, said the letter.
The corporation never opened any account with that branch, the letter said, adding that it was opened in violation of the rules.
A city corporation account has to be jointly accessed by the mayor and its chief executive officer (CEO). And the opening of the account requires the resolution of a meeting attended by the mayor and all ward councillors.
The letter, a copy of which was recently obtained by this newspaper, said a bank statement revealed that pay orders issued to the GCC mayor were deposited into an account bearing the number 03511100000578.
The pay orders were issued by Fin-Bangla Apparels for Tk 50 lakh, Ispahani Foods for Tk 40.25 lakh, Honeywell Garments for Tk 17.55 lakh and GMS Composite Knitting Industries for Tk 67.44 lakh and Tk 85 lakh.
However, disgraced mayor Jahangir deposited the pay orders to the fake GCC account and withdrew the money along with two accomplices named Polo Chakma and Md Shahidul, said the letter.
The account was closed on March 3 this year, the letter said.
Fin-Bangla Apparels Assistant General Manager (AGM) Saiful Alam said the mayor demanded Tk 50 lakh in advance holding taxes when his company applied for a licence renewal in 2020.
"So, we handed him a pay order for Tk 50 lakh at his office in February 2020," Saiful Alam said, adding that the mayor promised that he would provide a receipt and issued a renewed trade licence.
Honeywell Garments AGM Md Nuruzzaman said he applied to the GCC mayor for a deduction in outstanding holding taxes amounting to around Tk 35 lakh for a period of six yearsending in FY 2019-2020.
The tax was due because the factory had been closed for those six years, he explained.
"After the mayor offered a 50 percent deduction on the outstanding holding tax, we issued a pay order for Tk 17.55 lakh to him," Nuruzzaman said.
He said a representative of the firm took the pay order to the mayor's home and received a holding tax payment receipt.
Golam Rabbani, an executive of Ispahani Foods, said his company issued a pay order for Tk 45.25 lakh to the mayor on February 13, 2020, for the approval of a factory plan.
"Later, on February 19, I collected the receipt after handing over the pay order to the mayor," he added.
In a letter to the GCC, GMS Composite Knitting Industries said it paid additional money on top of the annual holding tax to support the revenue section of the city corporation.
They issued two pay orders to the mayor after his assurances that it would be adjusted with the following year's holding tax.
Acting GCC mayor Asadur Rahman Kiron said the aforesaid firms wrote to him about the pay orders.
Contacted, ex-mayor Jahangir claimed a vested group opened the account using his name and identity and withdrew the funds to frame him.
He added that he neither visited the bank nor signed any papers. "The account holder's signature is not mine."
Premier Bank's head of operations, Javed Husain, said the then-manager of the branch concerned informed them that he had gone to the then-mayor's office to have the account opened.
"He opened the account after the mayor assured him that all required documents, including GCC resolutions, would be provided," Javed claimed.
The Anti Corruption Commission is investigating the matter and has recently interrogated the branch manager and three other bank officers, he said.
The ACC is investigating complaints of irregularities involving Tk 7,800 crore against Jahangir, who was suspended on November 25 last year on charges of corruption and irregularities.