Writ seeks probe into media allegations on ex-land minister’s assets abroad

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A writ has been filed with the High Court seeking an investigation into the allegations raised at media reports about overseas assets of former land minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury.

The writ sought the Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation into two reports that claimed Saifuzzaman Chowdhury has assets worth 200 million pounds in the United Kingdom.

Supreme Court lawyer Md. Salah Uddin Regan filed the writ.

Salah Uddin Regan told Prothom Alo on Thursday, “A plea was made to the ACC chairman seeking an investigation about the allegations raised in the media reports on 28 April. As this did not produce any results, a legal notice was served to the ACC chairman, commissioner (search), commissioner (investigation) and the secretary. The writ was filed with the High Court on Wednesday as no initiative was taken despite the notice.”

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Several media outlets carried reports about overseas assets of Saifuzzaman Chowdhury. Allegations of hiding the information of wealth outside the country in the affidavit submitted to the election commission before the 12th parliamentary elections were also raised against him.

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Later, the former land minister in a media conference in the first week of March this year admitted to owning assets and businesses in the United Kingdom, but vehemently denied the allegation of transferring funds from Bangladesh.

Currently a lawmaker from Chattogram-3, Saifuzzaman said his father used to conduct a business in the UK from 1967 and he inherited that in 1991, upon completion of his studies in the United States. Later, he expanded the business.

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He addressed the allegation of concealing wealth in the affidavit submitted to the EC, saying the income tax form does not feature a dedicated section for overseas assets and he did not bother to disclose it.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), however, termed his statements as injustified.

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said publishing false or insufficient information in the electoral affidavit is a punishable crime. There is a compulsion for a candidate to submit information of all his wealth whether those are in or outside of the country.

TIB also demanded an investigation into the matter.