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12 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 July, 2019 11:13:49 PM
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ACC acknowledges guilt over Jaha Alam incident

BRAC, other banks played role in identifying wrong person
STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
ACC acknowledges guilt over Jaha Alam incident

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday acknowledged that it was wrong on the part of its investigation officers to have identified Jaha Alam as Abu Salek, the real accused in 26 cases of misappropriation of funds from Sonali Bank amounting to Tk. 18.5 crore.

In its internal investigation report on Jaha Alam’s identity mix-up, the ACC probe body also alleged that the officers of BRAC Bank and other banks had also played a role in identifying the wrong person and derailing the ACC investigators probing cases against Abu Salek.

“After an overall consideration, I have found that the mistake of identifying Jaha Alam as Abu Salek had occurred due to the confusion of the investigating officers of the commission. The officers of BRAC and other banks, as well as introducers of the fake person of that particular account, had misled the ACC’s investigation officers,” Abul Hasnat Abdul Wadud, ACC director (legal) and chief of the investigation committee, came to this conclusion after doing an investigation in line with a High Court (HC) directive.

The investigation report said that it was the duty of the investigating officers to submit the report to the court after unearthing the real facts behind the scam.  So, there was no scope to pass the buck to the bank and other officials for this incident, it mentioned.

The 23-page probe report was

submitted to the HC yesterday through ACC lawyer advocate Khurshid Alam Khan. After receiving the report, the HC bench, comprising Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader, fixed July 16 for a hearing on the issue.

When asked about the ACC’s findings against bank officials, the executive vice-president, communications, BRAC Bank Limited, told The Independent that they would not comment on the issue as the matter was pending in the High Court . “It is a sub-judice matter. We are not going to make any comment at this point,” he said.

In its report, the ACC said that the bank officials had gone looking for Abu Salek, but produced Jaha Alam before the commission’s investigating officers and identified him as Abu Salek.

However, the investigating officers, barring Selina Akhtar Moni, did not scrutinise the documents of Jaha Alam and shirked their responsibility in submitting the charge sheet in the cases.

The report also suggested punishment for those responsible for the “unfortunate” incident. During yesterday’s proceedings, advocate Khurshid Alam Khan, counsel for the ACC, admitted that there was lack of coordination in the handling of the cases.

Earlier, on June 27, the HC bench asked the ACC to submit its internal probe report by July 11 on Jaha Alam, saying: “We will look into who is responsible. The report is very important.”

On April 17, the HC sought the ACC probe report on Jaha Alam, a jute mill worker, who spent three years in jail while the real accused remained at large, to fix responsibility for the lapse.

Earlier, on March 5, the ACC had informed the HC in a report that the commission was not responsible for the plight of Jaha Alam.

“Cases were filed against Jaha Alam on the basis of documents from Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank,” the commission said in its report.

Jaha Alam, who spent the last three years in jail instead of the real accused, was released from prison on February 4. He had been arrested on February 6, 2016 after being mistaken for Abu Salek, who is the actual accused in 26 cases that the ACC had filed in 2014 over loan fraud and embezzlement amounting to Tk. 18.5 crore from Sonali Bank.

When the ACC sent for Salek, the summons went to Jaha Alam, who, in turn, met officials of the corruption watchdog and insisted that he was not Salek.

He also told the ACC that the photo that had been used to open the Sonali Bank account was not his either. But the bank’s officials still identified him as Salek and the jute mill worker was eventually arrested in Ghorashal following the ACC’s green light.

On May 27 the same year, Jaha Alam was transferred to the Dhaka Central Jail 2.

Despite appearing before the court many times since then, Jaha Alam did not get bail.

Identifying Jaha Alam as Salek in 26 of the 33 cases, the ACC submitted charge-sheets and the cases began being heard in court.

Last year, several media reports brought the matter of Jaha Alam’s innocence to the ACC’s attention, forcing further investigations into the matter.

Eventually, the ACC found Jaha Alam’s claims of innocence to be true.

On January 28, in a suo motu rule, the High Court summoned a representative of the ACC chairman, the cases’ plaintiff, the ACC investigatiing officer, and two other representatives from the home and law ministries to explain why Jaha Alam—instead of the real accused—had been in jail for the past three years.

Supreme Court lawyer Amit Das Gupta presented Jaha Alam’s case before the HC bench. Finally, Jaha Alam was released on bail following the HC order.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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