The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) today sealed off Regent Hospital's head office in the capital, and two of the hospital's branches in Uttara and Mirpur, on charges of issuing fake Covid-19 certificates and conducted other misdeeds.
According to a RAB intelligence report, Regent Hospital collected samples from at least 10,000 people. Of them, only 4,200 got authentic Covid-19 test certificates and the rest were fake.
The hospital authorities had an agreement with the health ministry that they would treat Covid-19 patients free of cost; but they not only charged the patients but also submitted bills to the ministry against each patient's treatment cost.
Sarwar Bin Kashem, director of RAB's intelligence wing, told The Business Standard that the hospital tested 4,200 samples at the government's National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine lab.
"For the rest, they collected samples from people's homes and dumped them in hospital bins and buckets. They prepared those test reports based on assumptions," he said.
"The hospital workers who collected the samples asked people whether they had fever or any other symptoms. Then they made fake certificates based on symptoms," he added.
Quader Md Helal, a resident of Mirpur, regrets giving his samples to Regent Hospital. He now thinks his test report is wrong.
"For the first report, they took Tk4,600 and never gave me the second report even after repeated calls. Now, I understand what happened," Helal said.
The RAB intelligence director said the hospital earned at least Tk3.5 crore producing fake Covid-19 certificates.
"They signed an agreement with the health ministry to treat people free of cost, but charged more than Tk1 lakh in many cases," Sarwar said.
He said the hospital owner managed to keep good relations with many high officials of the health ministry.
"For the month of June, they submitted a bill of Tk1.96 crore to the health ministry for treating Covid-19 patients. They mentioned in the bill that they provided free treatment, but this was totally false," the RAB official said.
"We are also keeping an eye on Md Shahed, chairman of Regent Group. He is now on the run after the RAB drive on Monday," he added.
RAB came to know that the hospital had been operating with an expired licence since 2014.
Other alleged misdeeds by the hospital authorities include not paying most of the workers and doctors according to their employment contracts.
Jakia Nusrat, an intern doctor at the hospital, said she has been working without wages for at least two months.
The hospital branches were hermetically sealed after all patients were transferred elsewhere.
RAB Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam said a case has been filed against 17 people with Uttara West Police Station in this connection.
Law enforcement also seized a car with a flag stand and a sticker of the health department.
"We suspect that the owner of the hospital was using the vehicle to mislead law enforcement agencies," Sarwoer said.
The magistrate said the hospital had shown inhumanity by collecting samples of patients, and then deceiving them in the name of treatment and giving false reports.
"I am personally reluctant to call them human beings. How inhuman and bad can people be to do this? We will collectively prevent any irregularities and corruption in the medical sector."
On Monday, RAB raided the Uttara and Mirpur branches of the hospital and detained eight people for interrogation. They also seized unauthorised testing kits.
"The hospital had made an agreement with the health authorities that it would treat Covid-19 patients for free. However, it was charging patients despite submitting bills to the government – claiming that patients were being treated for free," said Sarwoer on Monday.