The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police has summoned several senior customs officials to appear at the DB office on Thursday for questioning regarding the theft of around 55kg of gold from a vault in the arrival terminal of Dhaka airport.
"Senior customs officials cannot avoid their responsibility. At present, they are pointing fingers at lower-ranking officials and security personnel. We suspect that individuals higher up in the hierarchy may also be involved in the crime," a DB official told The Business Standard.
The police have also initiated surveillance on certain gold traders within the Baitul Mukarram jewellery market, where the DB suspects that the stolen gold was sold in various shipments.
On Wednesday, the DB detained eight customs officials and staff members, placing them under custody. These individuals are currently under intensive interrogation regarding the theft.
Among the suspects, four hold the position of assistant revenue officers, while the remaining four are sepoys, as confirmed by DB officials.
The major suspects in DB custody include assistant revenue officers Shahidul Islam and Saidur Rahman Shahed, along with sepoy Niamath Howlader. Additionally, the other five individuals currently in DB custody are assistant revenue officers and shift-in-charges Masud Rana and Akram Sheikh, sepoys Rejaul Karim, Mojammel Haque, and Afjal Hossain.
DB Uttara Division Deputy Commissioner Akram Hossain said eight officials and staffers of Dhaka Customs House were brought to the Minto Road DB office for interrogation. They are currently in police custody.
He said they cannot make any comments at this moment as the investigation is still in its early stages.
A DB officer who is supervising the investigation said they suspect that some of the people in custody may have been involved in the theft.
"We are now trying to establish concrete evidence of who had what role," the officer said.
The Customs officials have not made any formal statement yet, other than filing a case with the airport police on Sunday by Assistant Revenue Officer Sohrab Hossain.
According to the case statement, an airport official noticed that the lock of a vault was broken during regular monitoring on Saturday night. He immediately notified his seniors, who visited the spot and found that a part of the vault had been broken into with a sharp object.
Police investigators, however, said the theft of gold from the vault was noticed by Customs officials days earlier, but was only made public on Sunday. The locker was deliberately broken to make it look like a heist.
According to Dhaka Customs officials, two of the suspects Shahidul and Shahed were suspended on 21 August, on an internal order.
The heist was reported on 2 September.
The Customs house formed a five-member investigation team, led by a joint commissioner, to investigate the incident.
A Customs official said the gold, worth around Tk47 crore and seized between 2020 and 2023, was stored in the high-value vault near belt-1 in a highly protected area surrounded by security and intelligence offices.