The corrupt taxman and his ‘blessed’ in-laws

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ACC, NBR, Anti-Corruption Commission

Kazi Abu Mahmud Faisal, a former first secretary of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) in Bangladesh, has recently found himself at the center of a major corruption scandal. Allegations by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) accuse Faisal of illegally amassing a staggering BDT 10 billion. However, it’s not just Faisal whose fortunes have swelled-his in-laws have also seen their wealth multiply, all thanks to his position.

The ACC’s investigation reveals that Faisal, who was recently transferred to the Bogura office of the NBR, has facilitated the acquisition of multiple properties in the names of his in-laws. Among these is a 2,990-square-feett flat in Siddheshwari and 10 kathas of land in Meradia, Dhaka, purchased in the names of his father-in-law, Ahmed Ali, and mother-in-law, Momtaz Begum.

While the Siddheshwari flat is officially registered in Ahmed Ali’s name, local residents report that Faisal and his family have been living there for the past year. The flat, located on the 10th floor of one of the four buildings in Rupayan Swapno Niloy, was officially bought for BDT 9.50 million. However, ACC documents indicate the market value is closer to BDT 10 million. Local resident Bazlur Rahman finds the official valuation “unbelievable,” estimating the actual value to be at least BDT 30 million, considering the per square foot price in Siddheshwari ranges from BDT 10,000-15,000. Additionally, an extra BDT 2.5 million is required for parking space.

In February 2022, Momtaz Begum acquired 10 kathas of land in Meradia for BDT 5.2 million. The ACC believes the actual market value of this property to be BDT 45 million. Ahmed Ali also purchased a flat in Ramna from Rupayan Housing Estate for BDT 10 million. These transactions, however, only scratch the surface of Faisal’s extensive financial dealings.

Faisal and his relatives have conducted transactions worth hundred millions through 87 accounts across 19 banks and one non-bank financial institution. The largest volume of transactions, amounting to BDT 115.7 million, was found in the accounts of his father-in-law, a retired bank officer with eight bank accounts. His mother-in-law, Momtaz Begum, a homemaker, has 10 bank accounts with transactions totaling BDT 70 million. The ACC is now investigating how Ahmed Ali and Momtaz Begum acquired such substantial wealth.

Faisal’s wife, Jesmin, also holds significant assets. She owns five kathas of land in Boro Kathaldia Mouza in the Bhatara area, officially valued at BDT 1.82 million, though the ACC has determined the market value to be BDT 7.5 million. Additionally, there is land “worth” BDT 750,000 in Purbachal New Town, whose true value has yet to be disclosed by the ACC.

Faisal himself owns approximately 15.5 kathas of land spread across five locations in Dhaka and Narayanganj, which he valued at BDT 4.29 million. The ACC, however, states that these land values are grossly undervalued. Faisal and his wife also bought a five-katha plot from the Jolshiri Housing Project in Khilgaon, while Jesmin bought another five-katha plot for BDT 7.50 million from East-West Development.

Faisal’s financial portfolio includes six bank accounts with transactions amounting to BDT 50.21 million. Jesmin, though a homemaker, has five bank accounts with transactions totaling BDT 20.25 million. Additionally, Faisal purchased savings certificates worth BDT 20.55 million between June 2019 and November 2023 in his and his family members’ names.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge’s Court has ordered the seizure of Faisal’s assets, which include plots, flats, and bank accounts held by 11 of his relatives. These assets, both movable and immovable, are valued at approximately BDT 170 million, according to official documents. However, ACC officials claim that the actual value of these properties is no less than BDT 200 million.

The allegations against Faisal include taking bribes for transferring income tax officials, intimidating taxpayers, and other irregularities. The ACC decided to investigate Faisal last year, bringing to light his questionable activities since joining NBR in 2005 as a BCS cadre in the post of assistant tax commissioner.

This case highlights the pervasive corruption within certain segments of the government and the significant challenge faced by anti-corruption agencies in curbing such activities. The strategic undervaluation of properties and the complex network of financial transactions underscore the sophisticated methods employed by individuals to amass wealth illicitly.

As the investigation continues, the ACC aims to uncover the full extent of Faisal’s corruption and bring him and his accomplices to justice. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability in public service, and the need for robust mechanisms to prevent and penalize corrupt practices.

Kazi Abu Mahmud Faisal’s story is one of greed, deception, and the abuse of power. It starkly illustrates how individuals can exploit their positions for personal gain, often at the expense of the public trust. As the ACC delves deeper into Faisal’s financial dealings, there is hope that justice will prevail and measures will be taken to prevent such corruption in the future.

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