July 19, 2024, 2:28 am

Special Correspondent

2024-06-02 21:36:45 BdST

Benazir, family own more assets on St Martin's Island, Inani

It seems no end in sight as news reports of amassing huge wealth illegally by former inspector general of police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed continue to be published, drawing public attention throughout the country.

Holding a vast trove of assets, exposed so far, the ex-police chief and his family members have surprised the countrymen with more reports of movable and immovable assets owned by them coming to the fore.

In his name or his family members, Benazir purchased land properties or other assets not only in Bangladesh but also in other countries. He also invested hugely in the “Malaysia My Second Home” programme, according to news reports.

Ten years ago, the then Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Benazir bought 1.75 acres of land in his name on St Martin's Island. Prior to that, he purchased another 0.72 acres of land in the names of his wife and their three daughters adjacent to Inani beach on Marine Drive in Cox’s Bazar.

No establishment has been set up in those areas, but the property on the coral reef island is surrounded by a barbed wire fence and concrete pillars.

BNP’s St Martin’s Island union unit Convener Abdur Rahman, who looks after the land of Benazir, said he helped the former police chief buy 1.85 acres of land. Of which, the record has been done for 1.75 acres.

The property bought from 22 people is located on the south side of St Martin’s Island, said Rahman, also the owner of Hotel Sand Shore in the island.

According to the Teknaf sub-registrar office, the land was purchased on 29 May 2014 and the total value was shown Tk59.57 lakh in the deeds.

In 2009, Benazir bought 0.40 acres of land in the name of his wife Zeeshan Mirza at Inani and the value was shown as Tk5 lakh in the deed. Later, he bought 0.17 acres of land in her name at Tk20.36 lakh.

Besides, 0.15 acres of land were purchased there in the name of Farheen Rishta Binte Benazir, Tahseen Raisa Binte Benazir, and Zahra Zareen Binte Benazir. The land value was shown as Tk24.85 lakh in the deeds.

Jalia Palong Union Ward 6 member Shamsul Alam helped Benazir purchase the land.

Investment in Malaysia’s second home project

The former head of the Bangladesh Police invested a lot of money in the “Malaysia My Second Home” project. He invested in the housing sector and bought a modern house there.

People close to Benazir said he left for Singapore with his family on 4 May as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) launched its investigation. After his wife's treatment there, he can now stay in Malaysia.

There is also clear evidence of his money transactions in various banks in Malaysia. The ACC investigation team got this information while investigating Benazir's assets in Bangladesh and abroad.

Benazir's brother-in-law grabs brick kiln

Not only Benazir exerted his influence to amass vast assets but also one of his close relatives used Benazir’s power to do so.

Mirza Anwar Parvez, brother of Benazir’s wife, occupied a brick kiln set up on 48 bighas of land by Ashrafuzzaman Hablu at Dakshin Alipur village in Satkhira Sadar upazila in 2018. Benazir was serving as the director general of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

Parvez took possession of the “New Alipur Bricks” built for Tk5 crore, intimidating Hablu to kill him in “crossfire”.

Hablu told the media that Parvez picked him up four times sending DB and police personnel before taking control of the brick kiln.

Awami League’s Alipur union unit President Moshiur Rahman said Anwar Parvez grabbed the brick kiln when Benazir Ahmed was in service and Hablu has yet to get it back.

Benazir’s corruption

Several news portals in early April, published a series of reports detailing the wealth and properties allegedly acquired through illegal means by Benazir Ahmed and his family members which sparked a widespread discussion throughout the country.

Supreme Court lawyer Syed Sayedul Haque Suman approached the ACC seeking an investigation into allegations against the ex-IGP of amassing huge illegal wealth by abusing power.

Later, the High Court asked the ACC to submit a progress report on the investigation into the alleged illegal wealth of the former IGP and his family within two months.

On 22 April, the ACC told the media that it formed a three-member committee, led by Deputy Director Md Hafizul Islam, to investigate the allegations against the former IGP of amassing huge illegal wealth through abusing power.

On 23 May, Judge Mohammad As-Shams Jaglul Hossain of Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Special Judge’s Court ordered the confiscation of 345 bighas (114 acres) of land under 83 deeds and the freezing of 33 bank accounts belonging to Benazir and his family members.

At the request of the ACC, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) then sent letters to various banks seeking information and informed the commission later on. Based on the information of the ACC, the court ordered the confiscation of 345 bighas of land and the freezing of 33 bank accounts.

On 26 May, the same court also ordered the confiscation of land under 119 more deeds, shares in 23 companies and four flats in Gulshan, belonging to Benazir and his family members.

The ACC was also asked to confiscate shares in 19 business firms, three BO accounts and Tk30 lakh savings certificates.

ACC discovers ex-IGP’s more wealth

It has been learnt that the ACC has found more assets of the ex-IGP. It will soon seek the court order to attach those as well.

The newly recovered wealth includes a tea garden in Panchagarh, a resort at Thanchi in Bandarban, another resort in Gazipur, a textiles mill in Gazipur and 3-4 lighterage ships that are being operated under the banner of a renowned company.

Benazir, family members summoned

The national anti-graft watchdog summoned Benazir to appear before the commission on 6 June for facing interrogation over his alleged illegal wealth while his wife and their three daughters were asked to appear on 9 June.

Sources said the former head of the police force and his family members may comply through their lawyers.

Integrity Award and sanctions

Benazir Ahmed served as the IGP from 15 April 2020 to 30 September 2022. Prior to this, he was the commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the director general of the RAB.

During his tenure as the RAB DG and the IGP, Benazir played a key role in curbing anti-government movements and militancy in the country. In recognition of his professional integrity, he was awarded the Integrity Award for 2020-21.

On 10 December 2021, the United States imposed human rights-related sanctions on the RAB and seven top officials, including Benazir.

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