Yesterday, it was Koko; today, it is Khondeker Mosharraf Hossein

Published on Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yesterday, it was Koko; today, it is Khondeker Mosharraf Hossein

A. H. Jaffor Ullah

The sphere of corruption under Khaleda Zia rule goes beyond her immediate family members.  One of the stalwarts of BNP, Khondeker Mosharraf Hossain, had stashed millions of British pounds in England's banks.  When asked where this money came from?  He replied that these are his earnings from his student days in England during 1969 through 1975.  Well, I was a student in America during 1969 through 1975.  And in all likelihood my stipends were larger than his and still then I could not save enough.  Bangladesh's people would like to know what kind of investment Musharraf Hossain did to turn a measly sum of stipends to millions of English Sterling.

Please read the following Daily Star article (dated January 19, 2009) to understand the level of corruption this BNP politician did to amass such filthy sum of illegal money.  I feel like suggesting to ACC that these profligates should be locked up in a jail and please throw away the keys to jail cell.  These are the vilest people of Bangladesh who misused the trust our people bestowed on them.  The BNP was nothing more than an evil political party who schemed to make its party official filthy rich at the expense of Bangladesh's common people.  

Daily Star

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mosharraf's million found in UK vaults

* Money laundering probe in UK * Ex-minister claims his 1969-75 study time earning swelled astronomically * But account opened in 2003 * Wife's house found in Kent

By Julfikar Ali Manik

BNP leader and former minister Khandeker Mosharraf Hossain, his wife and a son have huge wealth in the British Isles, found investigators in the United Kingdom.

Mosharraf and his wife Bilquis Aktar Hossain have one million pounds in a joint account with Lloyds TSB Bank in Guernsey, a Crown dependency in the English Channel, said a source here citing findings of a probe by the Proceeds of Corruption Unit of London's Metropolitan Police.

However, in a wealth statement to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Mosharraf said he and his wife have £250,000 with the Lloyds Bank.

Mosharraf submitted his wealth statement to the anti-graft body in June 2007, just a month before the Met opened the money laundering investigation against him.

Investigators in the UK believe the assets they have traced represent proceeds of crime and were laundered by Mosharraf and Bilquis.

They have gathered much information about transactions in accounts that the ex-minister's wife and son have with various banks in London.

Initially, the sleuths sought to identify whether the Mosharraf family own those in their names or those of third parties.

They collected banking records from HSBC Bank plc with regard to Khandeker Hossain and Bilquis Hossain, at Hendon Central Branch, London, NW4 3JU.

Later, they had copies of documentation in relation to four accounts with HSBC Bank plc.

Of those, account numbered 01340123(Sort Code 40-03-26) was Bilquis's and the one numbered 01349090 (Sort Code 40-03-26) was her son Khandeker Maruf Hossain's.

"We have established that they have two sons, Khandeker Maruf Hossain and Khandeker Mahbub Hossain, both of whom have the same initials as their father KMH," a source quoted British investigators as saying in a report he has come by of late.

Bilquis opened hers in 2003 with an initial credit of £1000. But soon, she had over £3.94 lakh deposited in her name.

"There was no account activity until May 27, 2003, the account received a credit of £394,202.20 from an as yet unidentified bank account," read the report.

The current balance in the account is zero as the money was withdrawn at different times. The last withdrawal was made on May 24, 2007, when £60,839.74 was remitted to Janata Bank in Dhaka.

In 2004, Bilquis purchased a house in Kent (59 Hilda Vale Road, Kent, BR6 7AW) at £209,000. Her son Maruf remitted £212,000 from his HSBC account to UK law firm TG Baynes to fund the purchase.

Contacted via phone, Mosharraf told The Daily Star on Saturday evening that he does not know anything about the money laundering probe in the UK.

He claimed the money his family has there is neither illegally earned nor laundered.

He said he and his wife had separate accounts with HSBC Bank in London and a joint account with Lloyds.

Asked about the amount and source, he repeated what he said in the wealth statement to ACC.

About the house, he said, "I gave my wife the money to buy that house. Our son had nothing to do with the purchase."

He added that efforts are on to sell the house.

However, the UK investigators have discovered that Bilquis sold the house in 2007. One Mohammed Abdur Rahman Miah bought it for £210,000 which is around £60,000 less than the current market price.

In the statement to ACC, Mosharraf said the money he and his wife had as FDR with the Lloyds Bank would be brought back once it gets matured.

He also said necessary steps had been taken to bring all the money back to Bangladesh by selling the house.

But, on November 27 last year, in an affidavit to the Election Commission as a candidate in the ninth parliamentary election he stated her wife has a flat worth Tk 2.87 crore in the UK.

In the ACC statement, Mosharraf said he has wealth worth over Tk 2.28 crore at home. As his sources of assets, he mentioned business, agriculture, remuneration as lawmaker and minister, salary as a DU teacher etc.

His wife's wealth is worth over Tk 6.05 crore. She cited house rent, business, honorarium, apartment sale, fishery, remittance, return on bonds, etc as her sources of income.

Bilquis was a housewife before she took over the business responsibilities of her husband who got too busy as a lawmaker and minister in 2001-06.

An ACC official told The Daily Star yesterday that the wealth they found to have been earned beyond Mosharraf's known sources of income does not include assets abroad.

A separate probe is on to find if he has any wealth stashed overseas, he added.

Explaining how they owned the property overseas, the couple told the ACC that they earned more than £100,000 by doing jobs during their stay in the UK between 1969 and 1975. Mosharraf went there for higher degree.

Before returning home, they invested the money with Lloyds TSB Offshore Private Banking at the Guereusey branch. They did it for higher profit, read the statement.

The return on their investment accrued over 18 to 19 years. But as stock markets across the world began to crumble in 1992-93, they had the money shifted to their main account with the bank.

The couple spent some of the money on their sons' study in the US and UK. They also opened a fixed deposit amounting to £250,000 in a joint account.

They said they also bought a house at Kent for £210,000 so that their daughter Mahzebin Khandeker Mohua could study in the UK living with her mother.

Interestingly, the couple declares to ACC that they would accept whatever steps the National Board of Revenue (NBR) should take as per the law.

An NBR high official said such declaration might mean he had not mentioned some of his wealth in earlier tax returns.

He might be talking about his wealth abroad now to be spared prosecution. In that case, he had committed three offences--concealing information and income and evading tax, added the NBR official speaking to this correspondent in return for anonymity.

The ACC official who would not be identified talking about the issue also said that the ACC investigation found that his tax returns mention nothing about his assets abroad.

Mosharraf however claimed that he and his wife declared so because they do not know how the assets to be brought back would be treated in legal terms.

Once a teacher of geology at Dhaka University, he got involved in BNP politics during the rule of former president Ziaur Rahman.

He won parliamentary election from Comilla-1 constituency four times. In Khaleda Zia's government in 1991-96, he served as a minister first for home affairs and then for power, mineral and energy resources. He was at the helm of health ministry during the four-party alliance rule in 2001-06.

He was arrested on March 7, 2007 by the army-led joint forces in anti-graft drive by the caretaker government. He came out on bail in December last year.

Currently, he stands accused in several cases. ACC filed three cases against him on graft charges and NBR one for evading income tax of Tk 63.23 lakh between fiscal year 1996 and 2006. In fiscal year 2008-09, he paid Tk 2.82 lakh in income tax.

In September last year, ACC pressed charges against him of amassing wealth worth over Tk 9.10 crore through illegal means and concealing information about assets worth over Tk 4.31 crore.

At first, he was found to have been possessing assets worth over Tk 13.86 crore beyond known sources of income. Later, he had over Tk 4.75 crore of the amount legalised under a provision by the caretaker government to allow whitening black money, said an ACC official.

Mosharraf's statement to ACC said his wife and son Maruf had Tk 6.62 lakh in a joint account at the principal branch of Pubali Bank.

The amount was described as "foreign currency earning" between 2007 and 2008.

The investigators in the UK found 19 Faber Gardens (Hendon, London, NW4 4NP) to be Bilquis's correspondence address there.

"This is a residential property owned by a Mr. Salimullah Shaikh, who is an accountant registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales," a source said quoting the UK report.

The investigators also said they believe Bilquis has a brother named Abdur Rashid, who is in business with one Abdul Bashir Kaiser.

They are involved with the Bangladesh based Kaiser Trading Company Limited, which is part of the Gumti Group of Companies. They both use 19 Faber Gardens, Hendon, London, NW4 $NP as a UK correspondence address.

British investigators found that Rashid also has a Lloyds TSB Bank account in Guernsey, which has a balance of approximately £500,000, said the sources.

The document read, "There are reasonable grounds to suspect that Khandeker Hossain and Bilquis Hossain have conspired to launder the proceeds of criminal activity, and that substantial amounts of money are involved."

Officials working in the anti-graft drive said they have learned about many cases like Mosharraf's.

They believe a good number of high profile graft suspects have huge sums in banks abroad.

Mostly former ministers and lawmakers of the BNP-led four-party alliance and their family members, they are suspected of earning those from big government projects

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