Vol. 5 Num 1065 Thu. May 31, 2007  
Front Page

Tk 20cr Bashundhara bribe recovered from Babar
The former Home boss received the money in exchange for absolving Sobhan's son from murder charge, money deposited with BB; conglomerate paid Tk 25 lakh to AL leaders a month

The joint forces have recovered Tk 20 crore, which arrested former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar received from Bashundhara Group in exchange for not implicating the conglomerate's boss' son in a murder case.

The forces deposited the money with Bangladesh Bank yesterday, sources said.

In July last year, Humayun Kabir Sabbir, a director of Bashundhara Group owned by Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, was murdered and his body was found lying outside an apartment building in Gulshan. Sobhan's son Shafiat Sobhan was the main suspect in the killing.

Sobhan came to a negotiation with Babar that he would pay him Tk 20 crore in exchange for not implicating his son in the murder case, the joint forces came to know from another Bashundhara director recently. The director told the forces that he used to reach the money in small sums to Babar at his residence, sources said.

But when the director brought Tk 1 crore to Babar one day, the former state minister felt it unsafe to receive money in that manner and asked him to take the money to Qazi Saleemul Huq, owner of GQ Ball Pen Industries and a director of Prime Bank. Saleemul deposited the money with the bank. Babar asked him to return the money at a later time, the Bashundhara director told the forces.

Getting cue from the Bashundhara director, when the joint forces inquired with the Prime Bank about the money, Saleemul admitted to safekeeping the money for Babar. He also handed the money to the joint forces in a draft, which was then deposited with the central bank yesterday.

After receiving the bribe, Babar had allegedly instructed the police not to proceed with the case and the Bashundhara director's murder still remains unsolved. Babar also allegedly let Sobhan's son Shafiat fly out of the country.

The joint forces also deposited another Tk 7 crore with Bangladesh Bank recovered from a Chittagong businessman. The details of the businessman could not be known.

Meantime, more revealing information about how Bashundhara Group expanded its business on an amazingly fast track in the last five years with the blessing of BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman was extracted from arrested Awami League (AL) leaders.

AL Gulshan unit Secretary Wakil Uddin told the forces that the group used to pay Tk 25 lakh to the party on a monthly basis through Sayem Sobhan Anvir, another son of Akbar Sobhan. The money would then be distributed among the AL top leaders including Sheikh Hasina, MA Jalil, Sheikh Selim, Abdur Razzak and Tofail Ahmed.

AL leaders including the party's City Secretary Mofazzel Hossain Chowdhury Maya had received more than 10 plots from Bashundhara, Wakil told the joint forces.

Wakil repeated the allegations when he was brought face-to-face with Jalil and Selim yesterday. He said the money was often delivered in his presence. Jalil, however, denied the allegation.

Bashundhara Group had also cheated its buyers of land by cancelling their allotment whenever land prices had shot up. The buyers were then given fresh allotment in cheaply priced locations.

Bashundhara Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan is on the Anti-Corruption Commission list of graft suspects. He escaped to London soon after the anti-graft drive began and has been hiding abroad since then.

Lutfozzaman Babar