Ex-MP Poton’s firm stole 72k tonne fertiliser
A high-powered probe committee formed by Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation has found involvement of M/S Poton Traders, a contracting firm owned by former lawmaker Kamrul Ashraf Khan (Poton), in embezzlement of 71,801 tonnes of imported chemical fertiliser.
For this, the government lost Tk 581.58 crore.
The five-member committee, led by Md Zakair Hossain Akhond, director (planning and implementation) of BCIC, said this in a report submitted to the High Court yesterday in compliance with the court's January 5 directive.
Former lawmaker from Narsingdi, Poton is also the president of Bangladesh Fertiliser Association.
The committee, which was formed by BCIC following an HC directive, said that after examining the documents of the BCIC's purchase and sales department and the reports of previous three committees formed on November 10, 2022, it has been proved that 71,801.31 tonnes of Urea had been misappropriated.
The fertiliser was not supplied to different warehouses of BCIC by M/S Poton Traders in 2021-2022 fiscal year, the body mentioned.
Purchase cost of the fertiliser is Tk 553.88 crore and other relevant cost Tk 27,69 crore, meaning that the government incurred Tk 581.58 crore losses in total. This finding is consistent with a report published in the Daily Prothom Alo on January 5, the report said.
It added that on October 2, 2022, M/S Poton Traders sent a letter to the BCIC along with photos of 66,222.18 tonnes of Urea in place of 71,801.31 tonnes while the fertiliser was in transit.
In the letter, the contracting firm, M/S Poton Traders, showed 5,579.13 tonnes of the fertiliser less than the total quantity.
As per the information provided by the firm, the previously formed committees visited the spots in Khulna, Noaparaghat, Shiromoni, Nagarbari, Baghabarighat and Barishal and found only around 1,307.976 tonnes of the fertiliser instead of 66,222.18 tonnes. But the 1,307.976 tonnes are substandard, said the probe body.
It added that the firm embezzled the fertiliser and provided the BCIC with false information, as1,307.976 tonnes of fertiliser was found instead of 66,222.18 tonnes.
Besides, Shahadat Hossain, general manager of M/S Poton Traders, and Nazmul Hossain, general manager (operation) of the firm, admitted this before the previous two probe committees and signed the relevant documents on it, the probe body mentioned in the report.
BCIC lawyer Molla Kismot Habib yesterday placed the probe report before the HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat Lizu during hearing of a suo motu rule on this issue.
The bench fixed July 23 for delivering judgement on the rule and ordered the Anti-Corruption Commission to submit its enquiry report on this issue by this time.
Lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan appeared for the ACC during the hearing.