A large section of persons arrested in drives conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the last three years are government officials.
These accused officials are serving in the departments of land administration, finance, health, education, electricity, gas, passports, banks, WASA, customs, roads and transport.
The commission, after Iqbal Mahmud took office as its chair in 2016, detained 641 persons. Among them, 361 were government officials while 141 bank and insurance officials, 75 businessmen, and 31 politicians.
Transparency International Bangladesh's (TIB) 2018 household survey said around Tk 106.89 billion were exchanged in bribes.
It also identified the law enforcement as the most corrupted institution in the country while the passport office, BRTA, judicial service and land services followed.
According to the TI corruption index, corruption rose in 2018. In 2017, Bangladesh ranked 17th on the most corrupted countries' list while it ranked 13th this year.
ACC sources said, around 2.1 millions allegations were received through the ACC hotline in the last 20 months. Other than this, a total 17,000 written complaints were filed with the commission in 2018 while the number was 17,983 in 2017, and 13,000 in 2016, and 10,415 in 2015. More than half of the allegations were brought against government officials.
"As the ACC deals with embezzlement of government funds, corruption and bribery, it is only natural to receive more allegations against government officials," ACC commissioner (investigation) Mozammel Haque Khan said, adding, "Though bribery is more common among the government officials, corruption involving larger sums of money takes place more outside."
Following allegations received through hotline, ACC conducted drives at government hospitals, BRTA, Titas Gas, WASA, RAJUK, airlines, civil aviation, LGRD, REB. Since September 2017, 40 government officials were suspended by the ACC enforcement team and 45 were detained so far. Also, 7.1 million taka which exchanged hands illegally, had been returned.
The commission also set up 50 traps to catch 50 government officials. Two chief engineers of the shipping department and Ansar commandant Ashikur Rahman were among persons detained in such sting operations.
Corruption has increased as there is hardly any precedence of punishment for corruption, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said.
Over the last three years, top government officials, bankers, representatives were among the detainees. In 2016, a number of 388 persons were arrested while 182 and 57 were arrested respectively in 2017 and 2018. This year 14 persons have been arrested so far.
The arrest spree declined somewhat following the public service 2018. According to the act, the concerned authority's permission is required before arresting any government official even if they commit a criminal offence while in service.
Prominent among those arrested over the last three years by ACC are chairman of the Farmers Bank audit committee Mahbubul Haque Chisty, chairman of AB Bank M Wahidul Haque, Citycell CEO Mehbub Chowdhury, former RAJUK chairman Iqbal Uddin Chowdhury, National University proctor HM Tayehid Jaman, Hallmark Group chairman Jesmin Islam, former coastguard director general Shafiq Ur Rahman, Partex Group director Shawkat Aziz Russel, former director of the passport directorate Munshi Muyeed Ikram, former Agrani Bank managing director Mizanur Rahman Khan and others.