Embassy’s million-dollar theft, disappearance investigation files

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 11:39 am

An influential gang stole millions of dollars from the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, USA. The embassy’s emergency fund of 1 lakh 76 thousand dollars was embezzled. In addition, about 300,000 dollars were strategically removed from the account of the embassy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the primary evidence of that theft.

Officials said that not only the money was stolen from the Cedar Emergency Fund or the embassy account, but also the repair of the ambassador’s residence (Bangladesh House) through extensive corruption, the gang has siphoned off huge sums of money. The ambassador’s report, the complaint submitted to the Foreign Office confirmed the truth of these facts.

Related sources say that the officials of the embassy cannot avoid the responsibility of this incident when the incident took place.

It is known that the biggest corruption happened in the construction of Bangladesh House in Bethesda Highborough area in Washington DC. The market value of the home, including land (data from realtor firms Redfin and Zillow), ranges from $4.23 million to a maximum of $5.1 million. The bill for repairs (structural renovations and beautification) to the house is shown at $6 million.

The house, renovated at a cost of Rs 60 crore, used such poor quality materials that the roof cracked a few months after the house was inaugurated in September 2021. Water enters different parts of the house when it snows or rains. The house is home to the ambassador, his family and personal staff, but diplomatic parties have been banned for fear of loss of prestige. Seeing the matter on the ground, the current ambassador Imran Ahmed is appealing to Dhaka to take measures to reform quickly.

Systematic corruption in Washington has been a cover-up since the beginning. There was a report in March last year detailing the disappearance of $146,000 from the Washington Mission. In that context, a file was also made proposing the names of a 3-member delegation to investigate the whole matter. But till date the investigation has not been done.

According to sources, the then Minister of State Dr. Washington’s extensive investigation of the theft of the pond and identifying the real culprits. The file went up to AK Abdul Momen. The minister has changed, but the file has not been downloaded even today. Those concerned consider it mysterious.

Embassy money went to casino

American City Bank told the embassy that a large part of several hundred thousand dollars (emergency fund) withdrawn from the dormant account of the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington went to the casino. They shared the ATM card details of an embassy official as proof of this. To Sacha Khan, Manager (Vice President) of American City Bank, the sudden withdrawal of money from the embassy’s dormant account and emptying of the account within a few months is suspicious. He informed the then ambassador M Shahidul Islam in a letter.

The account was vacated at the time of the departure of M. Ziauddin, who served for a long time in Washington, and the assumption of responsibility by the next ambassador, M. Shahidul Islam (during the transition period). At that time, the then head of chancery (additional responsibility of DDO) was 30 batch official Mahmudul Islam. The bank account is closed under his signature. Although the account was closed in March 2021, as the bank authorities’ suspicions about it did not go away, correspondence continued with the embassy. After the matter was announced in the Washington embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a commotion started. But so that the matter does not get exposed in the media under any circumstances, the officers are called and briefed at regular intervals and all possible loopholes are closed. The investigation started very quietly and the government got the truth of the incident.

Officials said, on what pretext has the large amount of money been withdrawn, how has the cost been shown? The process of withdrawing the money and to whom it has been distributed is then looked into. But by then one party had moved to stop that search.

On December 10, 2021, the then ambassador Shahidul Islam was recalled when tensions arose in the country’s relationship with Bangladesh in view of the US ban on RAB. For good reason, the issue of looting money was then dropped. It may be recalled that every embassy has an income and expenditure account. This is called the mother account. Additional accounts should be opened or closed with the permission of the government. ‘Savings for Emergencies’ was the separate account of the Washington Mission. whose number was City Business IMMA-15283321.

According to sources, the emergency account was opened in 2007 after the terrible Cyclone Sidor that swept over Bangladesh. A lot of money was deposited in it in the beginning. But the account goes into ‘dormant’ status as there are no transactions in it for a long time.

Attempts to audit construction costs with a third party were unsuccessful

An ambassador sought a third-party audit to find out the extent of irregularities in the construction of the ambassador’s house. But under the pressure of invisible forces, he could not advance far with this. According to local realtors, the cost of construction materials used in Bangladesh House should not exceed 3 million in any case.

Different realtor firms evaluate houses in the United States based on the amount of land, existing infrastructure and interior. Zillow, one of the realtors in the United States, has listed the house at 4 Highboro Ct, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA (Bangladesh House) at $5.1 million on its website. Another firm, Redfin, listed the remodeled home’s price, including land, at $4.23 million.

Investigation files are missing and…

The State Department’s Administration Division has denied the disappearance of files investigating the theft in Washington. Officials say the file is not missing but is in process. Stating that the policy decision of the investigation made last year is still in place, an official said, the file was released before the election and is now largely ineffective. The official said that the previous proposal needs to be reconsidered due to various reasons, including the change in ministerial positions, and said that it is appropriate to present the matter to the new foreign minister and investigate the sensitive incident with his opinion.

Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said that he is not yet informed about the incident in Washington. Officials of the ministry also said that the matter was not brought to the notice of the minister in the last 5 months.

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