The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested a man who allegedly embezzled Tk10 crore that was collected as utility bills from Dhaka's Mirpur residents.
RAB said the arrestee Md Omar Faruq, 32, cheated around 1,500 residents and embezzled the money in three years — from 2018 to 2020.
At a media briefing Monday, RAB-4 Commanding Officer and also the Additional Deputy Inspector General of police Md Mozammel Haque said they arrested the accused from Chattogram's Sitakunda area on Monday midnight as Omar Faruq was on the run since January this year.
Omar Faruq had a mobile-based financial service shop "Intern Banking and Commerce" in Ahmednagar area of Mirpur.
RAB said the accused used to collect utility bills of the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, Desco and Dhaka Wasa from the locals. "Instead of depositing the fees to the service providers, he had been pocketing it all in the last three years," said Mozammel Haque.
In January this year, Titas told the Mirpur residents that it would cut off gas lines to around 1,500 households due to non-payments for more than three years.
Following the announcement, the locals rushed to Omar Faruq as he fled from the scene after shutting the shop. The residents then took to the street and staged protests.
Subsequently, a case was filed against Omar Faruq with the Mirpur Model Police Station on 2 February 2021.
Hailing from Noakhali's Kabirhat Upazilla, RAB said the accused came to Dhaka in 2014 after passing the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam.
He joined a mobile banking service shop at Mogabazar that year as a salesman. Later, he opened his own outlet at Mirpur.
The RAB-4 commanding officer also claimed that the accused opened more than five bank accounts to embezzle the money — that is believed to be already laundered into other businesses.
In 2018, he opened the ''Intern Banking and Commerce'' in Mirpur-2 area. The website of the business entity claimed it was an authorised agent banking institution.
Omar Faruq also introduced two other organisations named "Atut Bandhon" — a multi-level marketing company — and "Nobo Cash" for mobile banking services.
While replying to a query, RAB-4 commanding officer said some Titas Gas staffers and officials of a private bank might be involved in the scam.
The RAB officials could not give any hint where all the money had gone, or explain how he managed to avoid detention until June.
Contacted, Titas's General Manager (Administration Division) Md Munir Hossain Khan told The Business Standard that the arrestee had no connection with the gas distribution company.
"The detained person is the United Commercial Bank (UCB) agent through which gas consumers used to pay their monthly gas bills. But he allegedly cheated with the customers by stealing the money," he said.
The Business Standard could not reach the UCB Bank for comments despite several attempts.