Former foreign minister and BNP leader M Morshed Khan along with his wife Nasrin Khan had flown to the United Kingdom on a chartered flight just a day after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had imposed a fresh travel ban on him.
Their flight left the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on May 28 at around 1:15 am, according to sources at the airport.
Immigration officials said they did not receive any information from the ACC about the ban on Morshed's overseas travel, which caused them to allow the businessman-turned-politician to leave the country.
There are restrictions on his leaving the country because of an ongoing probe into his alleged financial irregularities.
"We did not receive any information on the fresh travel ban. As far as we knew, Morshed Khan had a court clearance for overseas travel," said an immigration official requesting not to be named.
An ACC high official told The Business Standard that they are currently investigating a number of cases filed against Morshed Khan and some of his family members. He got a court stay order on a travel ban imposed for one case. But the fresh ban was issued on May 27 on a different case for which an investigation is ongoing.
The ACC had issued the latest travel ban after it got intelligence that Morshed Khan might leave the country.
Confirming the latest travel ban, ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood told The Business Standard that they had informed the authorities concerned about it.
"We think, at this important stage of the investigation, the main accused should not have left the country. Our officer sent a letter regarding the travel ban, but its enforcement was not our job. We do not understand how they left the country," said the ACC chairman.
According to the ACC sources, on June 28, 2017, the ACC filed a case against 16 people, including Morshed Khan and his wife, due to their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of Tk383.22 crore from the Mohakhali branch of AB Bank Ltd.
On June 10, 2019, ACC Deputy Director M Shamsul Alam sent a letter to the Special Branch of Police (Immigration) for taking necessary steps to prevent Morshed Khan from travelling overseas.
However, Morshed Khan's lawyer Khairul Alam Chowdhury said they left the country complying with all rules. There was no restriction on their overseas travel. Furthermore, they went abroad for treatment as the elderly couple have been suffering from various complications such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The ACC had sent a fresh travel ban request to the Immigration Department citing that an investigation is going on against Morshed Khan, his wife Nasrin Khan and son Foysol Morshed khan in a different case.
The ACC filed the case with Gulshan Police Station on December 31, 2013, against them under the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2012 and the case is now pending with the court of Judge Emrul Kayesh.
The letter sent to the immigration department on May 27 says, "Far East Telecommunications Ltd Company, registered in the British Virgin Islands, is owned by Morshed Khan, his wife and son. The company has seven multi-currency accounts. They did not take the permission of the Bangladesh Bank for these accounts. They violated the law and it is an offence under the money laundering act."
The former BNP foreign minister allegedly laundered 39.5 million US dollars and 13.6 million Hong Kong dollars to the Hong Kong-based Standard Chartered Bank.
On September 19 last year, the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court gave an order to confiscate Morshed Khan and his son's bank accounts and 17 lakh shares in Hong Kong.
Earlier that month, the Hong Kong-based Standard Chartered Bank reported that they could not keep Tk16 crore and nearly 17 lakh shares of Morshed Khan and his son Faisal Morshed after October 15. So the court order was required to confiscate the amount.
On November 18 last year, the High Court upheld a judge court order that allowed the government to confiscate the Hong Kong bank accounts and shares.
Last November, Morshed Khan had resigned from BNP citing personal reasons. Morshed Khan was a special envoy to the then prime minister Khaleda Zia. Later, he became a member of the advisory council and vice-chairman of the party.
In 2001, he was appointed the foreign minister after being elected as a member of parliament in the 8th national election.
Bangladesh's first mobile phone operator Citycell, now defunct, was the investment of Morshed and his family. They had ventures such as Pacific Motors, Arab Bangladesh Bank and several other business enterprises.