Sabrina’s bank accounts frozen

ACC seeks Shahed’s investment, bank info, aide Masud arrested

Staff Correspondent | Published: 12:06, Jul 14,2020 | Updated: 20:35, Jul 19,2020


Sabrina Arif Chowdhury

The Bangladesh Bank has directed all the banks to freeze the bank accounts of the detained cardiac surgeon Sabrina Arif Chowdhury and her husband Ariful Islam Chowdhury while the Anti-Corruption Commission has sent letters to different regulatory bodies to provide bank and investment details of Regent Hospital owner Shahed Karim.

The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit of the central bank on Monday issued a letter to the banks seeking to freeze bank accounts of JKG Health Care’s detained chairperson Sabrina Arif Chowdhury, her husband Ariful Islam Chowdhury, and people and organisations associated with them under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012, an official of the unit told New Age on Tuesday.

The banks were asked to freeze their bank accounts for 30 days.

Regent Group managing director Masud Parvez, an associate of Shahed, was arrested on Tuesday by the Rapid Action Battalion in Gazipur.

Masud is the prime accused and was absconding since the filing of the COVID-19 test certificate forgery case on July 7, according to RAB.

Meanwhile, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police investigators said that they started interrogating JKG Health Care chairman Sabrina for issuing fake COVID-19 test reports and would interrogate her arrested husband shortly to identify their backers.

The DB deputy commissioner Golam Mostafa Russell told New Age that they were collecting evidence over their crime and to identify who else were behind them.

The ACC sent a letter to the Directorate General of Health Services on Tuesday, asking to provide documents relating to the agreement between the department and Regent Hospital, accused of faking COVID-19 test certificates.

‘ACC deputy director Abu Bakar Siddique sent the letters to the authorities concerned, asking them to provide detail information regarding Shahed’s investments immediately,’ said ACC director for public relations Pranab Kumar Bhattacharjee.

In the letter, the BFIU also asked the banks to furnish banking details of Sabrina, Ariful and their associate individuals and organisations within five days.

Besides, detectives have been tasked with investigation of the case filed against Sabrina and others over the issuance of fake COVID-19 test reports.

Tejgaon police officer-in-charge Salahuddin Mia told reporters that the Tejgaon Division of the Detective Branch of Police is now investigating the case as it was handed over to them on Monday night.

On Sunday, Sabrina was arrested in the case filed over the charge of issuing fake COVID-19 certificates without testing samples.

On Monday, the ACC launched an inquiry against the sealed Regent Hospital owner Shahed Karim on the charge of accumulating illegal wealth through different fraudulent businesses and activities.

The commission initiated the inquiry against Shahed, absconding since the case was filed, after it received complaints that he accumulated illegal wealth through different fraudulent activities, including microcredit and MLM businesses, Pranab said.

He also said that there was an allegation that Shahed evaded tax, took bank loans using false names and embezzled huge amount of money.

Shahed’s illegal activities were revealed after the Rapid Action Battalion found fake COVID-19 test reports at his Regent Hosptial in Uttara in the city on July 6 amid the coronavirus crisis.

Shahed shielded his fraudulent activities by introducing himself as chairman of 11 business organisations and as editor of a daily newspaper. He also used to introduce himself as the ruling Awami League’s international affairs sub-committee member.

Using those identifies, Shahed used to get in touch with government high officials to take illegal advantages, said investigators.

The COVID-19 testing forgery was detected after the Rapid Action Battalion on July 6 conducted raids at Uttara and Mirpur branches of his Regent Hospital in the capital and found that the hospital forged over 6,000 COVID-19 certificates and embezzled over Tk 3 crore in the name of providing COVID-19 testing facilities and treatment.

The Rapid Action Battalion on Tuesday said that drives to capture Md Shahed were on across the country, terming him as a symbol of dishonesty.

The RAB’s legal and media wing director Lieutenant Colonel Ashik Billah told reporters on Tuesday that they were continuing their drive in search Shahed.  

He said his in-law’s house at Molvibazar was also raided on Monday.

‘We are hopeful that he will be captured soon,’ he added.

About the JKG scam, the DB deputy commissioner said that so far the evidence they had were strong enough to establish their criminal intension, but more information was required to find their associations over COVID-19 certificate forgery.

The DB took over the investigation on Monday night and started interrogating Sabrina in the presence of their female colleagues.

Until June 24, the DMP authorities arrested Sabrina’s husband and JKG chief executive officer Ariful Chowdhury and four others for their alleged involvement in COVID-19 test report forgery.

The four were — Humayun Kabir and his wife Tanzina Patwary, Sayeed Chowdhury and Al Mamun.

Ariful Chowdhury along with others now is in jail.

Deputy commissioner Golam Mostafa said they on Thursday filed an application with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court seeking custody of Ariful.

The hearing is pending until Thursday while the remand in custody of Sabrina is to expire on the same day.

Police arrested government physician Sabrina on Sunday, about three weeks after the scam came to light.

Following her arrest, the health ministry suspended her from the post of registrar at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases for violating rules.

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