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Diplomats, Officials Punished In Bangladesh Human Trafficking Scam

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Authorities in Bangladesh and Kuwait  have punished  diplomats and senior Government  officials, following reports of their involvement in human trafficking, money laundering , bribing and other forms of corruption in the Gulf region. Bangladesh Foreign Affairs authorities    will recall the country’s Ambassador to Kuwait , Mr. S.M Abdul  Kalam, following accusations of  his involvement in such matters.  In Kuwait, a senior official, under Secretary Maj Gen  Mazen Al  Jarrah  has been suspended   in the Ministry of Interior, accused of taking bribes from Bangladeshi officials.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mr. A.K.M Abdul Momen  said that his Government   had a ‘zero tolerance approach’ towards   crimes like illegal smuggling of humans and money laundering. Mr. Kalam’s tenure as Ambassador was about to expire this month and he would have to return to Bangladesh.  His successor had already been chosen.  The charges against him would be investigated thoroughly and nobody connected with the matter would be spared, he warned.    

 The Ambassador’s alleged  imvolvement  came to light following  the arrest on June 6 by  Kuwait  Criminal Investigation department authorities   of Bangladeshi lawmaker Mohammad Shahid Islam Papul, who had  won on an Independent ticket from Laximpur II constituency.  He was questioned about his involvement in  illegal visa trading , human trafficking and financial corruption.   On June 20, he was sent to central prison , Kuwait city.  

Initial  reports suggest that the  high level Kuwaiti lawmakers and  officials, too, were part of an elaborate racket run by  Mr Papul and others. Some have already been punished, and action against a few others could follow soon.  

Mr. Momen said Dhaka was yet to hear officially from Kuwait authorities about the  charges against Mr.  Papul and the extent of his involvement. As soon as more details were available, the Government would take action against him as by law prescribed.

In Kuwait, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Interior Mr Anas Al Salah told Parliament that  nobody connected with such illegal activities would go unpunished. He announced a decree spelling out the immediate suspension of Interior Ministry’s Under Secretary , Maj Gen Jarrah. The allegation against him was that he had been bribed by Mr, Papul while   the latter was carrying out his illegal transactions all over the Gulf kingdom.  

Mr Al Salah said that there had been a demand from officials already to increase the extent of punishment for certain categories of crime like allegedly  those committed  by Mr Papul.  Occasionally, certain crimes would be treated relatively leniently and seen as misdemeanours, which usually meant a paying of fines, mostly. This would change . 

Interestingly, according to Mr Momen in Dhaka, Kuwait authorities did not arrest Mr. Papul as a Bangladeshi lawmaker,  but treated him as an ordinary Kuwait citizen .  Already two Kuwaiti lawmakers had been  indicted  and there be could be action taken against three more, according to reports.  

 Meanwhile in Bangladesh, concerned official agencies and authorities have initiated investigation  into the foreign travel details of Mr.Papul, his family members and sister-in-law. Their income tax details have been sought, along with documents of all recent business and other transactions. They would not be allowed to leave the country for now, as local investigations were launched as a routine follow-up  measure.

Mr. Papul runs 4 companies dealing in general trade,  the cleaning of buildings and sheets and  other work in Kuwait, with assets worth  5 million Kuwaiti dinars. He employed many workers, and had secured several work orders worst  1 million KD  ($3.25 million).

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