JKG Health Care chairperson Sabrina Arif Chowhury was arrested on Sunday afternoon in a case filed over COVID-19 certificates forgery by the NGO.
Sabrina, also a cardiac surgeon at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, was kept in police custody at the Tejgaon police station and will be produced before the court today (Monday) for remand, said Tejgaon division police deputy commissioner Harun-or-Rashid.
Later in the evening, Sabrina was suspended from her job by the health ministry for her involvement in the NGO JKG that faked and sold COVID-19 certificates, officials confirmed.
Her arrest came days after her husband Arif Chowdhury, JKG chief executive officer, and five other current and former employees of the NGO were arrested over counterfeiting COVID-19 certificates after the government under an agreement allowed it to collect COVID-19 samples amid the pandemic.
Sabrina has, however, denied all the allegations against her and her involvement in JKG functions for last few days.
Earlier, NICVD authorities served a show-cause letter on Sabrina to explain the allegations against her after JKG forgery was detected by the Rapid Action Battalion.
The RAB has also recently unearthed similar forgery of COVID-19 test reports by Regent Hospital in the city and was making drives to arrest hospital owner Md Shahed who is facing dozens of fraud-related cases.
RAB has so far traced at least 55 cases against Shahed with different police stations of the country, RAB executive magistrate Sarwoer Alam told New Age,
A case was filed with Uttara West police station on July 7 against Shahed and 16 other emplyees in charge of faking COVID-19 certificates, charging fees for free tests and sub-standard health services.
Meanwhile, the National Board of Revenue on Sunday asked all banks and financial institutions to provide detailed financial information related to Regent Hospital, its chairman Md Shahed, JKG Health Care, its chief executive officer Arif Chowdhury, chairman Sabrina Arif Chowdhury and some other business entities owned by these people, said officials concerned.
Central Intelligence Cell of the revenue board took the initiative, known as bank search, as part of scrutinising the sources of their income, acquisition of assets and whether they evaded income tax through hiding income and assets in their tax returns.
NICVD acting director Professor Shaheed Hossain told New Age that they also informed the Directorate General of Health Services about arrest of Sabrina over the scam allegation as she was a government physician.
‘The DGHS authorities will take decisions about Sabrina since she is a government employee,’ said Shaheed.
JKG Health Care received the permission to collect COVID-19 samples in April and it set up 44 booths in Dhaka and Narayanganj to collect samples from potential COVID-19 patients for free.
But their irregularities and forgery of COVID-19 test certificates were detected in late June during raids conducted by the Tejgaon police station. The organisation was charging test seekers high rates for collecting samples from home and was forging COVID-19 test certificates.
Later, the DGHS has revoked its permission to JKG for collecting COVID-19 samples.
Police on Sunday took Sabrina into their custody for interrogation.
She was quizzed at the Tejgaon police deputy commissioner office and then was shown arrested.
Police officer Harun-or-Rashid said that Sabrina denied her involvement in the JKG COVID-19 testing scam but failed to give appropriate answers to their queries when police decided to arrest her.
Earlier, on June 24, police arrested JKG Health Care CEO Arif Chowdhury and five others for their alleged involvement in the COVID-19 testing scam.
The law enforcement agency has brought charges against JKG Health Care of providing false test reports without examining the swabs collected from COVID-19 suspects for the test.
The arrested were remanded in police custody who confessed their involvement in the forgery operation.
Police said that they also seized several thousand fake COVID-19 certificates and some laptops of JKG officials.
Tejgaon police assistant commissioner Mahmud Khan said that they first arrested Humayun Kabir and his wife Tanzina Patwari, two former employees of JKG.
The two used to collect samples in the name of Booking BD and Health Care Organisation.
Humayun is a graphic designer.
The couple, who could not test samples, used to prepare fake test reports using computer and sent those to the patients through e-mail.
They used to charge around Tk 5,000 for each sample collection.
They had already given fake reports to 37 people without testing their samples and wrote the results based on the patients’ symptoms they observed during the sample collection, said police.
With the tip they gave, police then arrested JKG CEO Ariful and three other employees and seized false COVID-19 certificates from their laptops.
Till Sunday, Md Shahed could not be traced six days after a COVID-19 testing forgery case was filed against him.
Shahed became a talk of the town after the Rapid Action Battalion on July 6 conducted raids on the 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.
Talking to reporters at the Secretariat, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that Shahed would not be able to flee the country. He must surrender or face arrest, the minister added.
Inspector general of police Benazir Ahmed also said that they would continue their raids until Shahed was held.
NBR’s Central Intelligence Cell has also sought detailed information on the accounts held by Regent Group director Ibrahim Khalil, Regent KCS Ltd owned by Shahed and Oval Advertising Ltd owned by Arif.
The CIC also slapped a freeze on the bank accounts belonging to these people and their business entities, NBR officials confirmed.
The move came following their alleged involvement in COVID-19 test forgery by Regent Hospital and JKG Health Care.