Measures to detain Shahed
▪ Police slap travel ban on Regent Hospital owner Mohammad Shahed
▪ RAB caught his close aide Tarek Shibli from the capital
▪ Police say Shahed is under law enforcement radar, to be arrested anytime
▪ Home ministry in 2016 asked police to take action against Shahed
At least three government agencies – the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Police – are looking into fraudulent activities of Mohammad Shahed alias Shahed Karim, who made headlines following raids on Regent Hospital.
Besides, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which raided the Uttara and Mirpur branches of the hospital and found fake Covid-19 testing reports were being issued, is continuing its parallel investigation.
Police have already slapped a travel ban so that the Shahed cannot flee the country. Meanwhile, RAB on Thursday morning held his close aide Torikul Islam alias Tarek Shibli from the capital's Nakhalpara area.
A law enforcement source on Thursday evening said Shahed was under their radar and could be arrested anytime.
"We have obtained a lot of vital information from Tarek. He will be shown arrested in a case already filed," Rab Director (Legal and Media wing) Lt Col Ashik Billah told The Business Standard.
Assistant Inspector General (AIG-Media) of Police Headquarters Md Sohel Rana said they had already written to the immigration police so that Shahed cannot flee the country.
Meanwhile, ACC Secretary Muhammad Dilwar Bakht has said they were investigating other allegations against Shahed, including his illegal accumulation of wealth.
Sources said the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Bangladesh Bank has asked other banks to freeze Shahed's accounts. Besides, the unit has sought information about his bank transactions in the last few years.
Home ministry sources said they identified Mohammad Shahed as a fraud in 2016 and sent a letter to the then inspector general of police for action.
The letter said Mohammad Shahed had been claiming himself as a high-ranking army official to cover up his misdeeds. The person even claimed himself as a personal aide to the prime minister during her 1996-2001 stint.
Basically, he is a fraud and has at least 32 cases at several police stations across the country. He was even behind bars for two years, the home ministry noted.
However, Shahed was quite a free man and continued his fraudulent activities openly. Police used to arrange protocols for him instead of taking action against the man.
Shahed had torture cells too
Besides multi-level marketing and hospitals, Shahed had many "shady" businesses which he ran with an iron fist.
"I supplied him stones worth Tk42 lakh. When I asked him for payment, he assaulted me in a torture cell," a businessman told The Business Standard on condition of anonymity.
"I also had to go through social harassment by his female staff," he added.
'The Covid-19 report could have saved my father'
Four of a family in Dhaka's Mirpur developed coronavirus-like symptoms at the end of May. As the elderly father and mother had been suffering from old age complications, the family contacted Regent Hospital for collecting medical samples for Covid-19 from their home.
"Four Regent staff came on May 30, collected the samples and billed us Tk14,000 for the test," said a member of the family who is a doctor by profession.
But the staff were not in personal protective suits, said the doctor. As they did not get the result even after four days, they contacted the hospital. They were told that the samples got damaged and therefore, rejected.
In the meantime, the physical condition of the father started deteriorating on June 4. But the elderly could not be admitted to any hospital without a Covid-19 test certificate. On that day, Regent staff recollected their samples.
On June 5, the physician managed to admit the father at a city hospital where he tested positive for the virus. On June 9, the elderly man died while undergoing treatment there.
The Regent Hospital report came after his death, where only the physician was marked as coronavirus positive. Though four of the family gave medical samples from the same apartment, the results had different addresses.
The physician, preferring anonymity said, "Their results were fake. Four of us were Covid-19 positive.
"I suspected the hospital staff in the first place as they did not put on PPE. As the health directorate approved the hospital for Covid-19 treatment, I did not ask anything. But if they could give me the exact report first time, I could have saved my father," he added.
"My father died because of their corruption."
Health directorate did not heed officials who opposed Regent
The health directorate received multiple complaints about Regent Hospital in the last couple of years. The hospital did not renew the licence after 2013 and ignored repeated warnings from the health directorate.
But the health directorate signed the Covid-19 treatment deal with Regent, brushing aside facts such as the hospital not having a valid licence, among other allegations.
Hospital wing officials of the DGHS even requested their top-brass not to sign the agreement.
"I talked to the higher authorities requesting them not to sign the deal. But they did not pay any heed to our requests," a health directorate official told The Business Standard on the condition of anonymity.
The official said since the health directorate did not follow up once the agreement was signed, the hospital got the chance to continue its wrongdoings.
DGHS Director Aminul Hasan was contacted in this regard, but he was not available for a comment.
Secretary to the health ministry Abdul Mannan told The Business Standard that they had asked the DGHS to explain how Regent Hospital got approval for Covid-19 treatment since the private medical facility did not even have a valid licence.
"The office of the Director General of Health Services is looking into the matter. We will take action once they submit the report," he concluded.