Standard Asiatic Oil director buys house, three flats with ill-gotten funds

Moinuddin Ahmed

Moinuddin Ahmed, director of Standard Asiatic Oil, a company under joint government-private ownership, has misappropriated over Tk 810 million (Tk 81 crore) of the company. He was aided and abetted in this misappropriation by the company’s general manager Mohammad Shahed. Mohammad Shahed himself filched Tk 27 million (Tk 2 crore 70 lakh).

This misappropriation of funds came to light in investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The commission, based on specific allegations, started the investigation on 6 February last year. ACC deputy director Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman and assistant director Mamunur Rashid Chowdhury submitted their report to the commission this month. The report recommends that a case be filed against Moinuddin Ahmed. Meanwhile, Mohammad Shahed passed away on 18 August and so no case can be filed against him.

The ACC investigations reveal that Moinuddin Ahmed used the ill-gotten money to purchase three flats. He has also invested the funds in constructing a house and in other sectors.

Standard Asiatic Oil Limited is a subsidiary of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC). BPC owns 50 per cent of the company’s shares and the remaining 50 per cent is owned by Moinuddin and his brother Mishu Minhaj. The company was established in 1965 in Chattogram. It had then been owned jointly by Asiatic Industries Limited and the American company Esso Eastern Inc. When Bangladesh became independent, Esso left the country and the 50 per cent of the shares it owned went to BPC. Standard Asiatic Oil runs a lube oil business.

BPC said that the Standard Asiatic Oil board comprises two of its directors and two directors of the private ownership. The position of the company’s chairman is held by an officer of the government’s energy and mineral resources division.

Attempts were made to contact Moinuddin Ahmed over mobile phone regarding the misappropriation of funds, but he did not respond. He has seen the WhatsApp message sent to him, but has failed to respond to that too.

There are even more allegations of corruption and irregularities in Standard Asiatic Oil. BPC chairman Abu Bakr Siddique, who is presently the chairman of Standard Asiatic Oil, told Prothom Alo that they were finding many discrepancies in the company’s accounts. It has been ascertained that those funds have been misappropriated. Other than that, Moinuddin owes the company a lot of money and that is being recovered. He said they will take measures in accordance to the steps to be taken by ACC after investigations.

ACC investigation report said that over a period of time, Moinuddin Ahmed has withdrawn around Tk 420 million (Tk 42 crore) from five bank accounts of Standard Asiatic Oil against Letters of Credit (LC) and deposited this in four banks accounts of his own company Pyramid Exim Limited. He would make up fake requisitions for tanker and container handling. Most of the cash cheques he used to withdraw this money had the signature of the company’s general manager Mohammad Shahed.

According to ACC, Moinuddin Ahmed has purchased three flats with about Tk 130 million (Tk 13 crore) of this black money. He has also paid around Tk 60 million (Tk 6 crore) to a company Bhumi Development for the construction of a house in Lalmatia, Tk 10 million (Tk 1 crore) to a financial institution and Tk 15 million (Tk 1.5 crore) to a company Brands Only.

The investigative report of ACC said that Moinuddin Ahmed resorted to another means of making off with Tk 390 million (Tk 39 crore). He would do so by taking advance payment cheques in his own name and in the name of other staff.

The report said that general manager of Standard Asiatic Oil, Mohammad Shahed, was a partner in a company called Goodwin Power Limited. This was a violation of the service code. Over a span of time, Shahed had taken Tk 27 million (Tk 2 crore 70 lakh) from three accounts of Standard Asiatic Oil and deposited it as investment in a bank account of Goodwin.

ACC spokesperson Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told Prothom Alo, the commission will review the recommendations made in the report and then decide on what action will be taken.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir