ACC cracks down on corrupt NBR officials, freezes assets

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Anti-Corruption Commission, ACC, National Board of Revenue, NBR, Bangladesh

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) continues its determined crackdown on corruption within the National Board of Revenue (NBR), bringing to light the illicit activities of several high-ranking officials. Following the apprehension of Motiur Rahman and Kazi Abu Mahmud Faisal, both implicated in the infamous goat scandal, the ACC has now unearthed substantial illegal wealth accumulated by Mohammad Enamul Haque, the Customs, Excise, and VAT Commissioner of Sylhet district in Bangladesh.

On July 4, the court ordered the attachment of Enamul Haque’s extensive immovable properties, a decision prompted by an application from ACC Deputy Director Farzana Yasmin. The court’s ruling, delivered by Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge Mohammed Ash-Shams Joglul Hossain, marks a significant step in the ACC’s ongoing efforts to tackle corruption at the highest levels of government. The ACC’s investigation revealed that Haque had amassed wealth through bribery and corruption, with the total estimated at a staggering Tk 90.7697 million.

The ACC’s application, which led to the court order, outlined the extensive illegal assets accumulated by Enamul Haque. The properties, spread across various prime locations in Dhaka and other parts of the country, were allegedly acquired using illicit income. To prevent the transfer or sale of these properties and to ensure they can be confiscated by the government following a court trial, the court ordered an immediate freeze on Haque’s assets.

Enamul Haque’s properties include-Three acres of land in Zoar Sahara, Gulshan, Almost one bigha of land in Khilkhet, Dhaka, 1170 sq. ft. flat with common space in Irish Noor Jahan Tower, Kakrail, 1835 sq. ft. flat with car parking in the same building. Each of these properties is estimated to be worth significantly more than what is officially declared on paper. The combined estimated value of these assets ranges between BDT 80 to 90 million.

Additionally, Haque owns two more flats in Kakrail, valued at BDT 20.85 million, five kathas of land in Gazipur worth BDT 6.25 million, and three commercial spaces in Mohammadpur. He also possesses another commercial space of 10,965 square feet in Mohammadpur, and a 2428 square feet flat in the elite area of Gulshan, along with four katha of underdeveloped land in Badda, valued at around BDT 1.5 million.

The ACC’s findings, based on extensive investigations, revealed that Enamul Haque had engaged in a systematic accumulation of assets that were grossly disproportionate to his declared income. The case, filed by ACC Assistant Director Mahbubul Alam on July 31 of the previous year, accused Haque of acquiring illegal assets worth around BDT 90.7697 million. This amount constitutes a significant portion of his total declared assets, which amounted to BDT 170.7631 million, indicating a vast discrepancy between his legitimate income and the actual value of his properties.

Among the numerous assets detailed in the ACC’s investigation, Enamul Haque’s properties in Dhaka stood out for their value and location. He owns three plots in the upscale Gulshan area, three plots in the Bashundhara residential area, and another three plots in the same vicinity. Furthermore, Enamul Haque has a nine-storied building constructed on a plot in Bashundhara, with the construction cost alone exceeding two crore rupees. The investigation also uncovered that he bought land in Nasirabad, Chittagong, and Sonagazi in Feni, amounting to 20 katha.

In addition to these properties, Enamul Haque purchased five acres of land in Chandra, Gazipur, for three million rupees. During the investigation, the ACC also discovered two commercial floors in Shyamoli Square and Thanthi Tower in Dhaka registered in his name.

This seizure of Enamul Haque’s assets is part of a broader crackdown by the ACC on corruption within the NBR. Just days earlier, on July 27, the court ordered the freezing of properties and bank accounts belonging to NBR First Secretary (Tax) Kazi Abu Mahmud Faisal and his relatives. Faisal’s assets included multiple plots in Dhaka-Narayanganj and a flat in Ramna, Dhaka. The court also ordered the freezing of 87 accounts across 19 banks and a financial institution in the names of Faisal and his relatives.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “war against corruption” campaign has brought to light the illegally acquired wealth of numerous government officials and employees. This campaign, characterized by rigorous investigations and high-profile arrests, aims to root out corruption from the highest echelons of government. The Prime Minister’s stern stance on corruption is mirrored by central leaders of the ruling party, who have publicly voiced their support for strict anti-corruption measures.

At a recent discussion meeting organized by the Dhaka District Awami League at Savar, marking the 75th founding anniversary of the Awami League, General Secretary of the ruling party and Government Minister for Road Transport and Bridges, Obaidul Quader, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to fighting corruption. Speaking as the chief guest, Quader emphasized the government’s resolve to eradicate corruption, looting, and money laundering. “We will once again play against corruption, against looting, against money laundering. Bangladesh must be free from corruption. We will leave Sheikh Hasina’s promise to the letter. Let me say one thing, if the minister is honest, if the secretary is honest, there will be no corruption in that ministry. If we public representatives are honest, corruption will escape,” he asserted.

Quader’s remarks highlight the government’s broader vision of building a corruption-free Bangladesh, aligning with the legacy of the nation’s founding father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, the government is working towards creating a “Sonar Bangla,” a nation free from the scourge of corruption. Quader also praised the Prime Minister’s leadership, stating, “After Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, there is no such honest and fearless leader like Sheikh Hasina in this country. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Sonar Bangla is being built. We are vocal against dictatorship, injustice, and corruption. The corrupt will flee.”

The ongoing crackdown by the ACC and the government’s firm stance against corruption signal a new era of accountability and transparency in Bangladesh. By targeting high-ranking officials and ensuring that illegally acquired assets are seized and returned to the state, the ACC is setting a precedent for the future. The recent actions against Enamul Haque and other NBR officials are a testament to the effectiveness of this campaign.

As the ACC continues its investigations, more officials may be brought to justice, furthering the government’s objective of a corruption-free administration. The collaboration between the ACC, the judiciary, and the executive branch underscores a unified approach to tackling corruption, ensuring that those who misuse their power for personal gain are held accountable.

In summary, the ACC’s relentless efforts to expose and penalize corrupt officials within the NBR reflect a broader commitment to fostering integrity and transparency within the government. The recent seizure of Enamul Haque’s assets and the ongoing investigations into other officials signify a crucial step towards eradicating corruption and building a more just and equitable society in Bangladesh.

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