People on upper rungs of casino ladder mustn’t be spared

Published: 00:00, Oct 16,2019


THE Anti-Corruption Commission having initiated an investigation of 43 people on charge of their involvement in illegal casino business is a welcome piece of news. The government, which on September 18 began holding drives against illegal casinos and bars, has so far arrested 10 people — almost all of them are leaders of the youth wing of the ruling Awami League — who are now in either jail or police custody. The commission, which launched the investigation on September 30, is reported to have collected evidence against the 43 people involved in the illegal casino business and they mostly include, as New Age reported on Tuesday referring to a commission official, ruling party stalwarts and former and serving public servants. The commission will investigate sources of their income and a team is reported to have already started working on this. The commission, which is likely to level charges of illegal wealth amassment against the people, is expected to run its investigation on its own; but only this is in no way likely to adequately attend to the problem. The people arrested so far in this connection appear to have been on the middle rungs of the ladder, with people appearing to be at play behind-the-scenes on the upper rungs and people doing the chores on the lower rungs.

The people who have so far been arrested in this connection may not have have reached, or taken their trade to, such a pass overnight and not without blessings of people above and around them, political or otherwise. The government should, therefore, get hold of the people sitting on the upper rungs of the ladder if it means to decisively end the illegal business of casino operation. If the people on the middle and lower rungs are taken care of, with the people on the upper rungs still being at large, it is highly likely that some other people would come, or be employed, to fill in the vacant places and, as it happened in many other drives against illegal activities, and the illegal casino business would get back at square one. And the people sitting on the upper rungs and around them may not only be political leaders, they could also be people high up in the police and civil administration. Besides, only an investigation by the commission, which is mandated to investigate wealth amassment in cases of individuals, may not hold all the aspects of the illegal activities at hand to justice. The cases may well involve the abuse of powers, illicit capital flight and other such crimes. The government, in view of all such aspects, should involve other agencies such as the National Board of Revenue and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit in the process so that every aspect of the crimes is brought to justice.

While the Anti-Corruption Commission investigates the people at hand and any others who might come to the fore by way of the investigation in connection with the illegal business of casino and bar, the government must, rising above any partisan political interest, get after the people behind-the-scenes who control the business. The government must also involve its relevant agencies in the investigation so that all aspects of the crimes could be tried in the interest of the rule of law.

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