The health directorate had signed an agreement with Regent Hospital on the verbal instructions of former health secretary Asadul Islam, said directorate chief Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad, in an explanation to the health ministry on the scandal swirling around false Covid-19 certificates provided by the hospital.
Abul Kalam Azad submitted a written explanation about the much-criticised deal to current Health Secretary Abdul Mannan at 12:15pm on Wednesday.
After that, the director general (DG) immediately left the ministry without talking to the media. He did not even go to his office, where journalists were waiting for his comments.
Health Secretary Abdul Mannan told reporters, "We have got the written elucidation from the DG, who has attached many papers to it. Those will be checked."
"We will see if the explanation for what we wanted to know is accurate. We will take action after going through the papers," he added.
Meanwhile, former health secretary Asadul Islam (who is currently serving as senior secretary in the planning ministry) denied that he had given any verbal instructions regarding the contract with Regent.
"Whether there was a hospital called Regent or an organisation named JKG was unknown to me," he told the media.
"I did not give any instructions about any deal with them. Besides, there is no opportunity to do any work [such as deal signing] in government offices on verbal instructions," he stated.
Faced with severe criticism over the illegal activities of Regent Hospital and JKG Healthcare, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), on July 11, said it had allowed Regent Hospital to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients on the directives of the higher authorities of the ministry.
"On the directives of the higher authorities of the health ministry, the DGHS reached an agreement with Regent Hospital," the health directorate said in a press release last Saturday.
The press release, signed by Dr Mohammad Jahangir Kabir, assistant director of the directorate, said that news reports about the fraud by Regent Hospital owner Shahed Karim that had come out in the public domain had been unknown to the directorate earlier.
"However, on the directives of the ministry, an initiative was taken to sign a memorandum of understanding on the admission of patients. Before that, the two facilities, during inspections, were found having a suitable medical environment but their licences had not been renewed," it read.
A memorandum of understanding was signed with Regent on March 21 on the condition that its licence would be renewed.
Prior to this agreement, DGHS DG Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad did not know the Regent Hospital chairman, let alone his identity, the release added.
The health directorate had been cheated, the press release said, adding that the hospital had been closed down, as a result of the fraud-related reports, on July 7.
The following day, the health ministry asked the health directorate DG to produce an explanation over the press statement within three days.
The ministry asked for clarifications about what factors the DGHS had taken into consideration before signing an agreement with Regent Hospital, what measures it had taken to make sure that the conditions outlined in the agreement would be abided by, and what was meant by "directives of the higher authorities of the ministry".