The Dhaka Inland Container Depot (ICD) in a rejoinder has claimed that The Business Standard report titled "5 customs officials, three C&F agents work hand in glove to earn big" published online on October 20 is "false, fabricated and baseless."
"We believe the report is a plot to tarnish the government's image, to malign the customs officials, to bar them from realising revenue, and to mislead the people by hiding the truth. We are strongly condemning and protesting the false and baseless report," the rejoinder says.
It alleges that the report was not prepared based on authentic information.
"The report mentioned that Ismail Chowdhury Samrat and Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan were involved with Customs officials, which was totally fake, fabricated and intentional," the rejoinder states.
The Dhaka ICD said it operates like the six other customs house in the country as per directives of the National Board of Revenue.
The export-import work goes on following the Export Manual Ordinance and the Customs Act 1969. There was nothing that happened beyond the laws, the Dhaka ICD said.
The rejoinder mentions that as of September 2019 the revenue collection growth of the Custom House ICD is 33%, which is the highest among the customs houses. "In 2018-19 fiscal year, the growth was 15.06%, which was also the highest among the customs houses," it says.
"The Custom House ICD is determined to conduct revenue collection activities as per laws. Interests of some individuals/sections may have been hampered because of this and the false, fabricated report has been published to interrupt this effort and to tarnish the image of the incumbent officials of the Customs House, ICD, Kamalapur. The ICD authority condemns the report and opposes it," the Dhaka ICD added.
The news was based on the report of a government intelligence agency. The Business Standard has a copy of that intelligence report.
The Dhaka ICD rejoinder claims that our news story mentioned an alliance between the customs officials and recently arrested casino mastermind Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat. However, our piece did not mention any connection between them.
Besides, the Dhaka ICD said they released goods following all legal procedures. Our report did not talk about any illegal imports violating the law; rather it pointed out a mismatch between delivery challans and tracking numbers while releasing the imported casino equipment.
The Dhaka ICD said there is no CCTV footage that shows Khaled and Samrat visiting the depot. Firstly, the report did not name Samrat, and secondly, The Business Standard correspondent saw Khaled visiting the ICD in CCTV footage obtained by the intelligence agency.
The Business Standard stands by its report.