THE Anti-Corruption Commission coming to have decided to launch an inquiry against the Regent Hospital owner, now reported to be in hiding, and find out his connection with officials in the health ministry and its agencies over the sales of forged COVID-19 test reports is welcome. The law enforcers on July 6 raided the hospital branches at Uttara and Mirpur in Dhaka and found that the hospital had forged more than 6,000 COVID-19 certificates and embezzled more than Tk 30 million in the name of providing COVID-19 testing and treatment. The law enforcers have sealed off the branches of the hospital. A case has been filed in this connection against him and 16 others over COVID-19 certificate forgery. An official on the commission’s intelligence team has said that they have gathered information on previous incidents of forgery and money laundering of the hospital owner, who now faces more than 30 cases filed on charges of his involvement in irregularities of various types. The law enforcers, who seized unauthorised COVID-19 test kits from the hospital, say that the hospital owner also ran a business of selling substandard and unauthorised medical equipment. All this is a crime enough grave that the government should stringently deal with.
But finding the full breadth of his crime does not appear to be enough; and it may not deterrently end such corruption. The investigation against him should also get to the people who helped him in such crimes. The commission’s director general says that the hospital owner had a strong relationship with health officials by way of which he could secure the agreement between the hospital, having no registration, and health authorities on COVID-19 test and treatment services. An official of the Rapid Action Battalion also says that the hospital owner, who passed himself as a member on the ruling Awami League’s sub-committee on foreign affairs which party leaders have confirmed is not the case, had connections with ranking people. All this suggests that the hospital owner enjoyed an easy access to ranking civil and political spheres cashing in on which he could build his edifice of corruption. The health services directorate general now coming to say that it has been cheated holds no ground as the directorate general is there to stop fraudulence and corruption in the health sector. Being cheated as an excuse cannot absolve it of its weaknesses and purported involvement in the corruption. The government should find out the connection of the hospital owner with all and hold all of them to account.
The investigation must, therefore, collect all the pointers, including his photographs with others that have gone viral on social media, that have so far come up and find all other pointers that have so far not come up about the hospital’s owner and his hobnobbing with ranking people in civil and police administration, in political arena and in other spheres to find out the breadth and sources of his corruption to effectively end them in the interest of public health and public good. The government must also remember that this may not be a one-off incident and there could be many others that the government must look into.
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