The Financial Express

ACC sues Shahed, four DGHS officials over Tk 33.4m embezzlement

| Updated: September 24, 2020 14:16:35

ACC sues Shahed, four DGHS officials over Tk 33.4m embezzlement

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has filed a case against four officials of the health directorate along with Regent Group Chairman Mohammad Shahed over the deal between the government and the Regent Hospital for COVID-19 tests and treatment.

Md Farid Ahmmed Patwary, the deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission or ACC, started a case against the five people at one of its Dhaka offices on Wednesday, the agency’s spokesman Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said.

The commission accused the four officials of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Shahed of embezzling Tk 33.4 million through irregularities after signing the deal, reports bdnews24.com.

Regent Hospital’s licence had also expired during the signing of the agreement.

The officials accused in the case are Aminul Hasan, former DGHS director, its Deputy Director Md Yunus Ali, assistant director Md Shafiur Rahman and Research Officer Md Didarul Islam

The accused were found involved with the offences stated in the case during initial investigations, said Dilwar Bakth, the ACC secretary.

The authorities shut down the hospital’s two branches in Dhaka in early July after receiving allegations that it gave results without running coronavirus tests and charged the patients extra fees even after taking the cost of treatment from the government in line with the deal.

The DGHS signed the deal on Mar 21 after the government detected the first COVID-19 cases.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Abul Kalam Azad, then the director general of health services, and a number of secretaries attended the signing.

The directorate later said it had signed the contract on orders from high-ups at the health ministry.

Facing criticism over irregularities in the health sector amid the pandemic, Azad stepped down subsequently.

The ACC quizzed Azad during the initial investigation into the Regent contract.

 “It isn’t finished yet. If we find someone involved during investigation, we will name them in the charge-sheet,” Secretary Bakth said.

The plaintiff alleges in the case that the accused colluded with each other to transform the “closed” hospital without a renewed licence into a facility dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

They got the memorandum of understanding signed and samples of 3,939 patients tested for free at the government lab in the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine or NIPSOM, according to the case dossier.

The hospital “illegally” received fees of over Tk 13.7 million, or Tk 3,500 per COVID-19 patient, the plaintiff said.

It also drew over Tk 19.6 million as monthly charge for doctors, nurses, other health workers, officials and staffers, he alleged.

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