There’s a six-storey building, worth Tk 10 million at Lalkhan Bazar area in Chattogram city. There is also land worth Tk 10 million including plots in Cox’s Bazar Sadar. There are two passenger buses operating on Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar highway as well.
All these assets belong to a housewife, Ferdousi Akhter. Her husband, Md. Shahjahan is an inspector of Industrial Police in Chattogram. Earlier, he was the officer-in-charge (OC) at Lohagara and Sandwip police stations in Chattogram.
Ferdousi Akter acquired all this properties through the “bribes” her police officer husband had taken and the “irregularities” he committed, says the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
ACC has found illegal properties worth more than Tk 32.9 million (32,936,000) in her name. Besides, although Ferdousi claimed to be fisheries and poultry farmer, there was no evidence of this.
Ferdousi’s husband Md. Shahjahan joined the Bangladesh police force as a Sub-Inspector (SI) in 1991. He is from Katalia area that falls within the jurisdiction of Cumilla’s Lalmai police station.
He would initially draw a salary of Tk 2,600 and currently draws Tk 60,000 as salary as an inspector of industrial police in Chattogram.
Police inspector Md. Shahjahan claimed to Prothom Alo that his wife owns a poultry and fishery business. However, he could not say where the poultry and fish farm is located
ACC launched an investigation as allegations of illegal acquisition of wealth outside of salary and allowance were raised. The investigation found illegal wealth worth Tk 7.8 million in Shahjahan's name.
Assets of the OC’s wife
The six-storey house of OC Shahjahan's wife Ferdousi Akhtar is located in Lalkhan Bazar area in Chattogram city. The area falls within the jurisdiction of Khulshi police station. The house is on the high level road, 300 yards west of city’s WASA intersection. Everyone knows it as OC Shahjahan's house.
Visiting on 11 September, it was seen that the house has 10 flats on the top five floors. And, there is a flat at the ground floor with parking space on the rest of that floor. Shahjahan lives in a flat on the third floor, along with his family.
The house was built after buying five decimal of land in 2003. The cost for buying the land and construction of the building was estimated at more than Tk 8.6 million (8,621,000) in the ACC investigation.
When asked, Lalkhan Bazar ward councilor Abul Hasnat told Prothom Alo that the current market price of the building along with the land plot, on the high level road of Lalkhan Bazar is about Tk 50 to 60 million.
In 2015, Ferdousi bought a four-katha plot, worth Tk 6.31 million, in Jhilangjha Mauza under Cox's Bazar Sadar police station. Apart from that, she has another 20 decimals of land, worth more than Tk 15.4 million (15,410,000) in the same mauza, bought in 2016. Ferdousi bought two more decimals of forested land in Jhilangjha at a cost of nearly Tk 1.9 million (1,895,000).
Apart from the house and land, Ferdousi owns two buses as well. The buses move on the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar road. ACC said that Ferdousi bought those buses for a million taka in 2014.
‘Income’ from non-existent poultry and fish farm
According to ACC, Ferdousi Akter showed an income of around Tk 22.9 million (22,930,000) from a poultry and fish farm in 13 years from 2006-07 to 2019-20 fiscal year. She, however, failed to produce any business-related documents except the trade license.
She could not show any related documents, such as the permit from the concerned authority required for doing business as the wife of a government official, documents of electric meter connection to the farm, environmental clearance, farm transactions-related bank account statements, documents related to bills and vouchers of goods purchase for the farm etc.
When, this reporter went to Ferdousi Akter’s home on 11 September to get her statement, she refused to speak. Later, when her husband police inspector Md Shahjahan was contacted, he claimed to Prothom Alo that his wife owns a poultry and fishery business.
His wife's relatives live abroad and they sent her money from there. His wife did these, with that money. Besides, he too used to give some money from his salary to his wife, he added.
However, he could not say where the poultry and fish farm is located. The police officer said that he will now deal the ACC case legally.
Although, Shahjahan claimed his wife to be a fish and poultry farmer, no trace of any farm was found anywhere, said Nurul Islam, assistant director of ACC in Chattogram, investigation officer of the case.
While speaking to Prothom Alo, he said there are possibilities of them owning even more wealth. These are being investigated.
Sochetan Nagorik Committee (SONAK)-TIB Chattogram president Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury said that corrupt people try to legitimise their illegal wealth by showing their wives as poultry and fish farmers and traders.
He told Prothom Alo besides bringing these corrupt people to book, their assets should be confiscated in favour of the state so that others can learn from this and do not indulge in bribery and corruption in future. Otherwise, such incidents will increase.
* The report, originally published in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English Nourin Ahmed Monisha