Jack Of All Trades
Faking C-19 test results and our image
Published : Wednesday, 15 July, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 308
Fraudulent activities of few people of the country has zeroed the image of Bangladesh, which however, with years of struggle achieved recently the recognition as one of the fastest growing economies of the world emerging from a poor country dubbed bottom less basket.
The image maligned seriously after some Bangladeshi travellers upon arrival at Italian airports tested Covid --19 positive after they were flown from Dhaka by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Qatar Airways recently. The travellers however, possessed fake Covid-19 negative certificate issued in Bangladesh saying they were safe to travel.
Following the incidents, Italy on July 9 last imposed restriction on Bangladeshi travellers from entering the country till October 5 next. This restriction has become a setback for Bangladeshi expatriates waiting to return to their workplaces in Italy. Some 150,000 Bangladeshis live in Italy mostly on employment.
Subsequently, while talking to a Spanish TV channel during his recent visit to Madrid, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte mentioned that in the recent flights from Bangladesh, there were up to 20 per cent passengers in a single flight who tested Covid-19 positive after arriving at Rome airport.
In order to ensure that Italy does not go through the difficult situation of Covid-19 again, Conte said that Italy was forced to stop flights from Bangladesh, which is among 12 countries of the world from where flights were suspended temporarily.
Earlier in June, Japan put restrictions on special flights between Dhaka and Tokyo after four passengers who had travelled from Bangladesh tested positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine in Japan. Earlier South Korea has also restricted the entry of Bangladeshis after some of them, with documents certifying that they didn't have the coronavirus, tested positive after they landed there.
The depth and expanse of faking and cheating in Bangladesh have exposed anew when a law enforcers busted two hospitals in Dhaka for issuing false Covid - 19 certificates within a span of five days. On July 7 last a mobile court sealed off the Regent Hospital and on July 12 police arrested JKG Health Care Chairman Dr Sabrina Arif Chowdhury for issuing fake Covid-19 test certificates. Sabrina is the wife of JKG Health Care Chief Executive Officer Arif Chowdhury who was arrested earlier on June 24 for the same allegation. Dr Sabrina also a registrar doctor in the National Heart Institute and Hospital was suspended by the Health Ministry immediately after her arrest.
The mobile court also arrested some employees of Regent Hospital and launched a hunt to nab the owner Mohammad Shahed, a noted fraudster having link with high political, business, defence, law enforcers and professionals including leading journalists. The mobile court told reporters that the Regent Hospital issued more than 10,000 Covid-19 test results. Around 4,200 samples of the patients were tested at different government labs, and rest were just handed over false test results with any test and diagnosis. Earlier, law enforcers tracked down several gangs involved in making and issuing fake Covid-19 test certificates. Experts said such fraudulent activities would increase the risk of further transmission of coronavirus in the country and beyond.
It is mysterious how a noted con like Shahed could maintain such strong links with high-ups in the country. He has been a prominent fraudster in government record over the last several years. The Home Ministry in a letter four years ago described him as "A fraudster in myriad guises."
The letter, sent to the Inspector General of Police on September 29, 2016 said: "Shahed committed various misdeeds at different times by introducing himself as major/lieutenant colonel, former cadet college student and ADC of the then prime minister during 1996-2001."
The letter also asked the IGP to take action against him, but he somehow managed to get away with it and none stopped him from making his fortune cheating people in newer methods. Shahed once again hit the headlines after his Regent Hospital was sealed for issuing several thousand fake Covid-19 test reports.
With his mysterious capacity he maintained hotline with ruling party leaders and high government officials during different regimes. Over the last decade he developed high profile connection with the leaders of Awami League and senior government officials. He also owns a small daily newspaper,The Daily Natun Kagoj and claims to be a political analyst, a regular talk-show panellist, a retired army officer and a high official of the Prime Minister's Office.
His rich collection of photos shot in different events with the incumbent President of the country, different past and present ministers, top AL and BNP leaders, influential journalists, and high officials of the government and law enforcement agencies, has gone viral in social media recently.
According to police sources, Shahed is involved in various crimes and the illegal practice at the private hospital was of of the many crimes. He is facing around 32 cases, including for murder, money laundering and embezzlement of public money. He has already served some terms in jail for embezzling money.
However, Shahed managed all these nefarious activities with blessing of the high officials of the government authorities. He is still being sheltered by some influential people so that law enforcers fail to nab him. It is likely that he would be allowed to flee the country as the two brothers of a corporate house in Dhaka were allowed to flee the country recently using air-ambulance amid global flight suspension.
Fraudsters have been always active in Bangladesh since its birth. However, their tricks and treachery never lasted long and they were ultimately caught by the public and law enforcers. But some of the influential and notorious fraudsters escaped the punishment allegedly due to their political connections. It is also true that some cons are now in prison or being tried in the country's courts, which often delay in giving verdict in absence of evidences, records and police reports.
Frauds and cons in the country generally cheat people giving those hopes of huge financial returns, high paid jobs at home or abroad and lucrative gains. There are many people who are yet to get their money returned from the frauds most of whom went into hidings or cases in this connections lingering in the courts on legal tangles.
Immediately after the independence of the country, cheaters tried to make quick bucks by selling faked Freedom Fighters' certificates to most of those who had opposed the Bangladesh Liberation War 1971. However, the then administration quickly subdued the racket, recovered huge such faked certificate and detained some of the cheaters.
In Bangladesh the faking of certificates of noted educational institutions, passports, travel documents, currency notes, court verdicts, land ownership, appointments and transfer orders etc continued for some times in the past. But those were investigated and cancelled. Most of these criminal activities are now being curtailed after gradual digitisation of the systems.
In recent years many poor investors were cheated by the fake multi-level marketing (MLM) companies in the country. Many corrupt traders, cheated partners, a section of bank owners and officials stole government and public fund and fled the country. Once, some Bangladeshi traders were also blamed by overseas importers for inserting nails in shrimps in order to increase the weight of the export consignments.
The administrations and the relevant authorities must maintain surveillance round the clock especially in uncommon situation like pandemic outbreak, natural disasters, political turmoil and warfare to nip the fraudulent activities in the bud.
The writer is Business Editor,
The Daily Observer