Ex-minster found innocent in gold crest scam

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Rozina Islam | May 27, 2015

Adulteration of gold, used in the crests given to foreigners in recognition of their contribution to Bangladesh’s Liberation War, has been ascertained.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs placed a report in this regard to the committee president AB Tajul Islam, also former minister for liberation war affairs.
The ex-minister, however, has been acquitted in the report.
On April 7 2014, the liberation war affairs ministry formed a probe committee to identify the people involved in the scam.
The probe committee found 13 officials, including former minister Tajul Islam, former secretary Mizanur Rahman and incumbent secretary Masud Siddiqui, and the crest suppliers responsible for the misdeed.
The concerned ministry filed a case on June 10 against the suppliers – Meer Daud Ahmed, the proprietor of the firm Amecon; and Mohsinul Hasan, owner of M/S Mohsinul Hasan.
The parliamentary investigation committee was formed on 24 April 2014 with Afsarul Amin as its convener. Committee member Iqbalur Rahim submitted the report on Sunday after a year.
The probe committee has found the then incumbent secretary KH Masud Siddiqui, joint Abul Kasem Talukdar, deputy secretary Enamul Kabir, section assistant Abul Kasem (acting administrative officer) responsible for the corruption in making of crests, and also for concealing the crest test report. The committee suggested taking legal measures against them.
Every crest was supposed to have 22.5 grams of gold and 339 grams of silver. But Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI) found that the crests had only 2.363 grams of gold, and 351 gram of brass instead of silver.
According to a parliamentary probe committee, a total of 338 crests had been conferred in seven phases on foreign friends for their contributions to the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
Mizanur Rahman was the secretary during the first two phases and HM Masud Siddiqui for the last five segments.
Each crest for the foreign friends was supposed to have around two bhari or 22.5 grams of gold and 30 bhari of silver.
However, a Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) test found that there was only about 2.63 grams of gold in each crest.
According to the committee, it is unacceptable and a heinous crime to have found crests having less quantity of metals.
After receiving the BSTI report, the former secretary forwarded it to the the joint secretary instead of sending it to the then state minister.
According to documents, former secretary HM Masud Siddiqui approved the bill of the crests despite knowing the BSTI report and it was a serious dereliction of duty.
Though Abul Kashem Talukdar got the BSTI report, he recommended Emicon to deliver the crests. He did not, even, placed the issue of testing the crests in the meeting. The committee observed that he committed a major offense by recommending Emicon again instead of disclosing the BSTI report.
However, the committee did not find involvement of former state minister Tajul Islam and secretary Mizanur Rahman and some other government officials.
If the BSTI report had been presented in detail in the document, the country might have not undergone such a shame, committee thinks.
Contacted, Afsarul Amin, head of the committee said, “We mentioned in the report what we had found in our probe.”
The parliamentary committee was formed after Prothom Alo’s 6 April, 2014 report revealing that the gold crest recognising foreign citizen’s contribution to the country’s independence hardly contains gold.