When it came to importing the machinery to manufacture government sponsored laptops ‘Doel’, we came across a scale of corruption which even eclipses those told in fairy tales. A thousand dollar machine was rubber stamped at a 100,000 per unit, on pen and paper. And as such roughly purchase worth 1 and a half lacs in USD have been “shown” to cost have a mammoth total of 10 lacs 6 thousand and 540 USD. That figure is 300% more than the actual value and the money scavenged from there was distributed in between Malaysia’s Penang and New York. And the prime minister’s son Joy himself, pocketed a sizeable chunk as his share. There is evidence showing a transaction of 3.75 lacs in USD between an HSBC bank account in Penang and New York’s TD bank which TFT technology, one of the shareholders in the ‘Doel’ project, paid as bribe money. TFT technology group’s CEO Michael Wang confirmed in fact that a lion share of the aforementioned figure went to the then telecommunications minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu. It is worth noting at this point that Mr. Raziuddin is amongst those in the government closest to Joy’s. 75% of the amount Razu exacts however goes entirely into Shajib Joy’s treasury. Unbelievable I know. To think Joy personally visited Malaysia to attend all those meetings, when all he was doing was devising strategies on how to fill up his own pockets.
Now while the current telecommunications minister promised at first that he’ll investigate the matter, in a meeting, later on he requested us not to write about any of this. But senior members inside the Telephone Shilpo Shongstha (TESIS) have admitted that there was a lot of looting going on behind the scenes during the infant stages of the Doel laptop project. They found out about it much later. TFT technology paid one Mohammed Iqbal 2 lacs and 99 thousand US dollars from an HSBC bank account in Penang, transaction number 371271743710. This Mohammed Iqbal is the elder brother of another one of Joy’s loyal breeds, Iftekhar Mohammed. Iftekhar Mohammed hails from Narayanganj. His father Golam Mohammed operates a travel agency on Kolabagan in the capital Dhaka. One of Joy’s friends, a Mr. Arafat introduced him to Iftekhar Mohammed who in turn introduced Joy to his elder brother Iqbal. Consequently he found himself at one end of these transactions.
Similarly in TD bank New York using the swift code method (transaction no. 031101266) around 75 thousand dollars were deposited. That money was sent to ne Chowdhury Associates. Having paid 3.75 lacs in USD Michael Wang even sent in a written confirmation to Mohammed Iqbal’s Dhaka office. The letter refers to Mohammed Iqbal as the managing director of Dhaka Millennium Holding Ltd.
Michael Wang clearly stated, “The money, according to the wishes of Shajib Wajed, was to be sent to minister (Raziuddin Ahmed Razu) and joint secretary Mohammed Rofiqul Islam along with a few others.” In some of his emails he further informed that there was a company set up specifically to facilitate the production stages of the laptops and that its CEO, retired general Najib Hasan, actually devised the master plan on how to increase the prices of the imported machinery. Najib was handed that responsibility because he was Mr. Rafiqul Islam’s cousin on his father’s side. While we discussed this with him a few days back, currently he is out of the country.
Michael Wang notified the government of these things each time and in various ways. At one point TESIS considered sending the entire file to the Durniti Domon Commission (DUDOK) and ask them to step in and stop this shameless looting. The decision was reached in a board meeting held on the 19th of December last year. A week after the decision was reached, managing director Mohammed Ismail was relieved off his duties. Those involved informed us that after the decision was reached to notify DUDOK, minister Raziuddin Razu coaxed the public administration ministry to remove Ismail from the Doel project. A beat lateranother meeting was scheduled, where TESIS reversed their decision and removed the DUDOK investigation from the equation.
When rumors of corruption started gathering pace last year between October and November, the minister grew impatient to remove Mohammed Ismail from his position. And at the same time I began investigating the Doel laptop fiasco and the illegal transactions behind the scene. I’ve already held discussions with many of those involved in the saga. Wang of course confirmed that he himself has deposited dollars in various amounts and in multiple accounts, all owned by Bangladeshis. He also informed a renowned newspaper in Bangladesh that he’d held three rounds worth of discussions with Shajib Wajed Joy.
Apart from that he also had to deposit a stack of dollars to an account belonging to one Sarwant Singh, an Indian. He also referred to a person named Aziz Rahman, whom I found at the receiving end of a lot of these transactions. However it was not possible to unearth his identity I’m afraid.
Recently in a live TV program Mr Rafiqul Islam, a board member of TESIS, admitted that there has been wide scale corruption regarding the Doel project. He also brought TFT into the discussions saying that, “Wang’s allegations might be true.” However he blatantly denied his and Shajib Joy’s involvement in the incident. He said, “There were discrepancies right from the start. Equipment worth 10 lacs in USD was being shown to cost 18 lacs in USD”. He further stated that, “Wang himself is corrupted. He should be the one arrested first.” On the transactions he had to say, “They are saying that Iqbal was the man who received the money and yet Iqbal is one of their own.”
Now before all that Malaysia’s TFT, Bangladesh’s 2AM corporation, government company Telephone Shilpo Shonghstha (TESIS) signed a mutual agreement on May 2010, to manufacture laptops. On January 2011 the three parties finalized the deal to commence production. According to the contract TFT will own 30 percent of the stakes while the remaining 70 percent will go to the other two companies for their investments. But time passed quickly and neither TFT nor 2AM were funneling any money into it. Wang argued that this was one of their main tactics. At one point due to the state’s involvement in the project, another state funded company BTCL loaned them 25 million in Bangladeshi money. Upon receiving the “meat” the pack began dividing it amongst themselves, starting somewhere around mid-2011.
Before that of course there was the debacle regarding imported machinery at which point TFT claims that TESIS blocked quite a large portion of the money they demanded. Out of the 10 lac USD expected, TFT had already received 6 lacs and 20 thousand USD and were still owed 3 lacs and 85 thousand USD. The TFT stated that, “We’ve received 6 lacs and 20 thousand dollars, however we’ve had to take a 3 lac and 85 thousand dollar hit, because of all the bribes we had to make.” Even the money they were sent was done so quite grudgingly it seems by TESIS, who caused problems everytime TFT asked for their money. At one point they offered that they’ll go in peace if someone just remunerates them only 40 thousand dollars out of the 3 lac and 85 thousand dollars owed. They were desperate for that money and delegates from TFT travelled back and forth between Bangladesh several times to resolve the issue.
Wang further stated that a lion share 3 lacs and 82 thousand dollars that he coughed up, went to Joy and minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu. At this point he discussed the conniving duo of Shajib Wajed Joy and co-conspirator minister Razu. He declared that these two were the main culprits behind the whole debacle. Multiple representatives of TESIS informed us that, TFT and 2AM imported machinery worth 10 lacs and 6 thousand dollars from Malaysia. Later on the CEO of TFT emailed a few people inside the ministry informing them that the prices of the machinery and raw materials imported, were inflated to make it look like they cost 300% more than their original values. Another employee inside TESIS stated that, when they were about to begin the production stage they noticed that much of the equipment imported was not what was required to manufacture these laptops at all. And then to evaluate the quality of the material at hand, TESIS sought the help of experts in BUET to analyze the components and draw a conclusion. The evaluation shockingly revealed that much of the raw materials present, were actually used to produce LCD televisions. Besides the general equipment, tables and chairs were also considered when it came to listing all the imports. Much of that equipment is now just scrap material and is lying around collecting dust inside TESIS.
The then managing director of TESIS blocked the remaining amount they owed to TFT in a cunning move, once he’d gotten wind of Wang’s deed. According to sources, when the poking and probing around this incident reached a fever pitch, on the 29th of August last year they reached a decision to oust the Malaysian company out of the Doel laptop project. As to how exactly they’ll achieve that, has not been finalized yet.
When queried about the money changing hands, former telecommunications minister Raziddin Ahmed Razu replied, he does not know who Mohammed Iqbal is. He has not been in contact with Joy as well. He does not know anything about anything. Period. In fact he blamed Mohammed Ismail for the whole incident. He bleated, “Ismail must have done something, if anybody did. He is the one spreading such lies and false rumors.”
When asked about the Malaysian company’s omission from the project, Mr Razu replied, “2AM and TFT refuse to pay up. That is the reason that they are no longer part of the project. Why should the other company bear their burdens?” In reply to the former minister’s comments Wang said, “Even though he was there at the beginning once he’d understood what was going on Iqbal Mohammed distanced himself from 2AM. His children now run the company.”
Michael Wang notified several employees inside TESIS of the incident, all via electronic emails. Taking all that into consideration the TESIS board members gathered in a meeting the 19th of December. They reached a unanimous decision to request DUDOK to step in and investigate the matter. The meeting after that, which was primarily scheduled to discuss the next phase in the Doel project ended up with the now new managing director of TESIS vetoing the decision to involve DUDOK, instead deciding to conduct their own “internal investigations first”. In fact the new MD himself crossed out the lines bearing the DUDOK proposal if you will. He did it with a red ink pen no less. Of course the “internal investigation” never materialized.
Another culprit involved in Doel project scandal was Sharun Chowdhury, son of Nazmul Chowdhury who was MP for Potia seat no.11. Sharun owns an organization called Gonona Telecom. Now Gonona Telecom had previously installed surveillance cameras in many government offices including that of the prime minister’s all without the need of a formal tender. And one of the master chefs of the conspiracy Shushanta Das Gupta formed a pact in collaboration with Iftekhar and Sharun, while TESIS and government officials received the green signal from Joy and former minister Razu. That’s it that is all it took to loot millions off of hard earned public money which edged the country to a whole new level of depravity.
Then again who will even bother with this, who will dare to look twice into the matter when the most powerful man in Bangladesh Shajib Wajed Joy’s name is involved?