ACC uncovers massive corruption of National Security Intelligence officer

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Anti-Corruption Commission, NSI, National Security Intelligence, Corruption, Bangladesh

In a significant development that highlights the pervasive issue of corruption within public service, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Bangladesh has filed a case against Akram Hossain, an assistant director of the Directorate of National Security Intelligence (NSI), and his wife Suraiya Parveen. The case was registered on May 21, 2024, following the discovery of substantial amounts of unaccounted wealth accumulated by the couple over a span of years.

Akram Hossain, a resident of Naopara, Natore, joined the NSI in 1989 as a junior assistant. Over the years, he ascended the ranks, becoming a field officer in 1997 and finally an assistant director in 2016. Despite his modest official income, the ACC investigation revealed that Akram and his wife Suraiya amassed assets worth hundreds of crores of takas, far exceeding their known income sources.

According to the ACC’s findings, Akram Hossain and Suraiya Parveen’s known non-income assets stand at Tk 6 crore 70 lakh. In contrast, the couple’s accumulated wealth in various bank accounts is staggering. Suraiya’s bank transactions alone amounted to Tk 126 crore 33 lakh from 2009 to 2023, with withdrawals totaling Tk 125 crore 25 lakh during the same period. Such large sums of money moving through accounts linked to a public servant’s family raised red flags, prompting a thorough investigation.

The couple owns numerous properties, including flats, shops, and land in prime locations across Dhaka, as well as a house and land in Natore. They even possess land on the tourist destination St. Martin’s Island in Cox’s Bazar.

One of their notable assets is a six-and-a-half-story commercial building in Birulia, Savar, named ‘Star Complex’. This building, which houses a factory for manufacturing electronic goods under the name ‘Mrs. Star Electra World’, was reportedly built at a cost of Tk 4 crore 7 lakh 32 thousand according to Akram. However, ACC investigations suggest the actual expenditure exceeded Tk 5 crore 68 lakh, indicating a concealment of Tk 1 crore 61 lakh 79 thousand in expenses.

Akram’s attempts to legitimize their wealth included starting a business in his wife’s name in 2008. The business, however, lacked valid documentation, and its transactions were suspiciously large for its reported scale. The ACC report notes that while Suraiya is the nominal owner of businesses like ‘Star Electra World’ and ‘Lira Tours and Travels Limited’, Akram handles most of the business and banking activities.

The couple resides in a 1,500 square feet flat in the Senpara area of Mirpur, purchased in 2015 for Tk 22 lakh. Conversations with the building’s manager and security personnel reveal a family leading a somewhat understated life. Akram uses a motorcycle for commuting to work but switches to a car when traveling with his family. Suraiya, on the other hand, is seldom seen outside, indicating a low-profile existence.

Further investigations unearthed additional properties in Mirpur, including a 100 square feet shop and two flats with a commercial space of 1,650 square feet in Suraiya’s name. Despite Akram’s claims that all assets are legally acquired through his wife’s business income and duly reported in tax returns, the magnitude and rapid accumulation of their wealth cast doubt on these assertions.

The ACC began scrutinizing Akram and his wife’s assets in 2020, prompted by allegations of abuse of power and financial misconduct. An ACC official revealed that Akram misused his position to extort money from businessmen and politicians by threatening them with negative reports. This misuse of authority facilitated the illicit accumulation of wealth.

The ACC’s findings and subsequent case registration signify a critical step towards addressing corruption within public institutions. The case against Akram and Suraiya is emblematic of broader issues within law enforcement and intelligence agencies, where officers exploit their positions for personal gain.

Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), emphasized the necessity of investigating and holding accountable law enforcement and intelligence officers who engage in corrupt practices. He remarked, “The allegations against law enforcement and intelligence officers of harassing people to acquire wealth are not new. How this intelligence officer came to own so much wealth should be investigated and action taken.” He further stressed the importance of monitoring the activities of intelligence officials to prevent such abuses of power.

The case against Akram Hossain and Suraiya Parveen is a litmus test for the ACC’s commitment to combating corruption. As the investigation progresses, it will be crucial to ensure that all findings are transparently disclosed and that legal actions are taken without bias or delay. This case also underscores the need for robust mechanisms to monitor the wealth and activities of public officials, preventing the abuse of power and fostering a culture of accountability within public service.

The broader implications of this case extend beyond Akram and Suraiya, serving as a reminder of the critical role of oversight institutions like the ACC. By diligently pursuing cases of corruption, the ACC can help restore public trust in government institutions and ensure that public servants adhere to the principles of integrity and transparency.

The case against Akram Hossain and his wife highlights the pervasive issue of corruption within public service and the need for stringent measures to prevent and address such abuses of power. The ACC’s investigation and subsequent legal actions are pivotal in promoting accountability and integrity within Bangladesh’s public sector.

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