Bangladesh’s leading intelligence services have strongly recommended the sacking of an adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after they received copious reports of his involvement in a ‘conspiracy’ to unseat her government at the behest of a ‘Major Power’.
Easternlink exposed the ‘conspiracy’ on the basis of its access to one agency report . But it now learns that at least two other agencies have substantiated the report about the conspiracy, which initially became available when one or more conspirator developed cold feet and switched allegiances to alert the agencies.
The agencies have strongly recommended that this PM adviser, also a leading a business magnate but whose name has surfaced in umpteenth scams and frauds , (a) should not be allowed access to the PM Office and its documentation , (b) should be sacked or removed immediately and (c) his involvement in the 1996 and 2011 stock market scams that defrauded millions worth hard earned savings of Bangladeshi investors should be up for fresh probe by a joint team of Anti Corruption Commission (Duduk in Bengali) and Bangladesh Bank.This PM adviser is known for his close links with Pakistan , he and his son have both studied in Pakistan, his wife hails from there.
India has been ill at ease with his appointment in PMO especially because Delhi remains worried over Sheikh Hasina’s security concerns — and also over his effective neutralisation of other much more qualified advisers . The agencies have also recommended removal of many top officials of financial institutions, apex bank and key government departments where this business magnate and his son has gained unrestrained influence and unfettered access mainly due to their close proximility to a member of the PM’s family.
Two high-profile Bangladesh ministers , A M A Muhith and Taranna Halim and the former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman were reportedly dropped on this business magnate’s bidding . The two ministers had blocked several key files related to his businesses where he sought deals giving his companies unfair monopoly, unusually high profit margins and downright fraudulent insider trading that led to stock market crashes .
The Bangladesh Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, set up when Atiur Rahman was BB governor, also identified this business magnate as the country’s leading bank defaulter and also the leading money laundering spearhead because he not only send out his own money but also those of others for a fat commission.
Dr Atiur Rahman has often commented in academic forums that if Bangladesh could reasonably curb money laundering and bank defaults, the country’s GDP could grow by an additional 1 per cent within a year.
He now teaches Development Economics in Dhaka University following his removal as BB Governor on a false blame over the apex bank’s loss of its forex reserves during a transfer. The Bangladesh Bank cyber heist, took place in February 2016, when thirty-five fraudulent instructions were issued by security hackers via the SWIFT network to illegally transfer close to US $1 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York account belonging to Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh.
While BB officials dealing with transfers could be involved, there is no way Dr Atiur could be dealing with such routine work. And if he was actually involved, why was it not established in any probe into the issue and why was he left alone is a question that bugs all admirers of Dr Atiur who had won several awards as the best Central Banker or the Banker of the Year .
Rahman is a top flight economist, a intrepid banker whose management of Bangladesh’s growing forex reserves for infrastructure development is seen as responsible for the country’s exceptional growth trajectory . His work on Tagore’s socio-economic thought has been highly acclaimed in academic circles.
AMA Muhith as Hasina’s finance minister between 2009-2019 presided over Bangladesh’s ‘golden decade’ in economic growth and could surely take much credit . But like Rahman, Muhith also fell foul with this adviser and had to finally go , though officially his health reasons were cited for the change over to a new finance minister, who is known for his close proximity to this business magnate and PM advisor holding cabinet rank.
Like Rahman and Muhith, Ms Taranna Halim, Hasina’s celebrity minister had to go because of her principled opposition to a host of telecom deals like the ICX and IGW allotments and terms of licences . A popular actress and later a playwright in early life, Halim’s performance in the Dhaka Bar as a legal eagle and as a fiery street agitator for the Awami League, specially during its long years out of power, had endeared her to Hasina. Her performance in parliament and in running the two ministries that she handled was off a high order and her speeches in International forums ,like the Biritish House of Lords, made huge impact.
But her strident anti-Pakistan politics, her fight against institutionalised corruption and her determined opposition to deals by companies of this business magnate got her in his crosshairs soon after she became Telecom minister. So much so that she was not only humiliated and removed from Telecom and shunted to Information, but was later denied even an Awami League ticket.
Attempts to speak to her did not materialised because her numbers known to journalists went unresponded for several days. Some say she is unwell, others say she may left the country to stay with her children who study and work abroad.
Dr Atiur and Muhith also refused to speak to Easternlink to ‘avoid controversies’. But as the clamour grows for sacking this business adviser who seems to be having a finger in every juicy pie in Bangladesh economy and whose handpicked people dominate the cabinet and parliament, the bureaucracy, business and media and other echelons of Bangladesh administration , intelligence agencies feel he seems to have grown “too ambitious” and planned to establish a ‘national government’ with himself at the top.
This PM adviser is also believed to be responsible for framing a top professional Bangladesh editor whose multilingual news portal is the most credible source of information from the country, in which major foreign investments have been made.
“We have brought money into our organisation which means we brought money into Bangladesh, and here we are pulled up for it. What about those who illegally launder money out of Bangladesh, the hard-earned money of our toiling masses ,” said a senior editor.
The revelations of the plot with the backing of a ‘Major Power’ now seems to have blown his top.
“This guy stands exposed as the Khondkhar Mostaque of our century,” said a top security official of Bangladesh government. “But he is amazing because he has put his men everywhere and could easlily run the country only if he got the top seat.”
This business magnate seems to have strong China and US connections through his principal handlers in Pakistan and his growing ascendancy has been a source of ire for India . ” He seems to have managed both Powers, like the Pakistanis do, and the way he has ringed in Sheikh Hasina with his own people is a real cause of concern for all who love and respect her,” said a senior Indian diplomat from Bengal.