Positions purchased in large dollar amounts
Three US AL leaders keep on same position despite arrest and sentence
Chhabed Sathee: Despite being arrested and sentenced in the United States, three leaders of the United States Awami League remain in the same position. The responsible leaders of the party are not able to say ‘two words’ against them, far from being fired. These positions were bought by the arrested and convicted leaders in exchange of huge sum of dollars. As a result, the United States Awami League cannot expel them from the party.
United States Awami League organizing secretary Mohiuddin Dewan was arrested on Wednesday afternoon on July 12 at 110 Queens Precinct of the New York City Police Department. That afternoon, he went to the New York City Police Department’s Queens Precinct to testify about the verbal dispute and fight between him and the treasurer of the organization, Naushed Hossain, at the meeting of the Bangladesh Society’s executive committee. He is the organizing secretary of United States Awami League and the vice-president of the executive committee of Bangladesh Society.
Last Sunday, July 2, in the meeting of the executive committee of the Bangladesh Society, Mohiuddin Dewan and the organization’s treasurer Naushed Hossain had an argument and fight. At one point, there was an incident of throwing chairs and water bottles between both of them. At that time, the president of the organization Abdur Rob Mia and general secretary Ruhul Amin Siddiqui could not stop them despite many efforts. Naushed Hossain was injured in this incident. His supporters attacked Mohiuddin. Awami League leader Mohiuddin Dewan, arrested on suspicion of involvement in the fight, was released on bail from the New York court after two days of imprisonment. He was released on bail from a court in Queens, New York on Friday afternoon (July 24) and returned home. Although he was arrested in another incident outside the party, the United States Awami League did not take any party action against him.
United States Awami League vice-president Abul Kashem alias Ekashi Kashem was arrested by immigration police when he arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on June 21 midnight to come to the United States. United States Awami League has not taken any action against him even in the last one month.
It should be noted that Abul Kashem alias Ekashi Kashem, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, joined Awami League from Jasad in 2008. After that, he managed the leaders of Awami League in the United States and got the position of the 10th vice-president of the party in exchange for a large sum of dollars. He has a construction business in the United States. The Central Bank has not found the authenticity of even one of the accounts of assets that Abul Kashem submitted to Bangladesh Bank for the formation of People’s Bank.
According to related sources, Awami League’s US branch vice-president Abul Kashem returned to the country in 2017 after being assured to become the owner of a new bank named ‘People’s Bank’ by a former high-ranking person of the Bangladesh government. Before getting the approval, he also opened an office using a signboard with the name ‘Proposed People’s Bank Limited’ at Banani DOHS in the capital. After that, he started collecting capital and additional expenses from various individuals and institutions including businessmen with the assurance of making him the director of the bank. Almost two years pass like this.
The Board of Directors of Bangladesh Bank gave in-principle approval to People’s Bank, Bengal Commercial and Citizen Bank on February 17, 2019. Abul Kashem was the Chairman of People’s Bank who got policy approval. After that approval, Bengal Commercial and Citizen Bank started operations, but People’s Bank never saw the light of day.
Bangladesh Bank canceled the initial approval of the bank as it could not fulfill the conditions. But Abul Kashem did not return the money taken from various individuals and organizations in the name of the bank before the approval. These funds were collected by talking about making bank directors. With that money, Abul Kashem bought several houses in Brooklyn, New York, flats in Gulshan and expensive cars and went around Dhaka city and New York.
The Board of Directors of Bangladesh Bank took a policy decision on February 17, 2019 to offer the bank. The board of directors of the central bank also gives letter of intent to the bank. However, the bank could not fulfill the conditions of the letter of interest even after taking time several times in three years.
Meanwhile, Abul Kashem did not deposit all the money he collected to form the bank. Again, the money deposited is not in the name of the bank but deposited as his own. And those from whom money is collected, not all of them have been given the position of director or entrepreneur.
The bank took the initiative to add some new directors including cricket star Shakib Al Hasan, his mother Shirin Akhtar, after excluding some of those who were made directors in the beginning. Also asks for more time to comply with the conditions. Shakib Al Hasan and Abul Kashem met the then Governor of Bangladesh Bank Fazle Kabir on December 21, 2021 and told the matter. However, on January 20, 2022, the central bank rejected the request for a new extension. The letter of interest given to the bank was also cancelled. As a result, the initiative to form a bank failed. Then it was said on behalf of Bangladesh Bank, Shakib Al Hasan took two director positions of the bank with 40 crore taka.
A senior official of Bangladesh Bank told the media on Saturday night that there is nothing called People’s Bank in the country. Its initiative has long since collapsed. Those who have deposited money to become directors, have given on their own responsibility. The central bank has nothing to do about getting their money back.
Prothom Alor spoke to several businessmen and bank officials involved in the initiative to form the People’s Bank. They said that many people joined Kashem hoping to become the director of the bank. Now there is no bank, money is not getting back.
In the nineties he bought a house in Brooklyn, New York. Recently bought two more houses. Before coming to the United States, he was associated with Jasdar politics in Sandwip.
On July 26, 2020, Alesha Mart got its registration from the Directorate of Joint Venture Companies and Firms. Alesha Mart’s journey officially started on January 7, 2021. Manzoor Alam Shikdar, Chairman of Alesha Mart, gave Abul Kashem Tk 100 crore taken from the customer to become the director of the proposed People’s Bank and to invest in the stock market. As a result, the customers of Alesha Mart also got a large amount of money stuck with Abul Kashem.
In this incident, the CID has filed a case against 15 people including Chairman of E-commerce company Alesha Mart Manjur Alam Shikder, his wife Sadia Chowdhury, Chairman of People’s Bank Abul Kashem under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Recently, Assistant Superintendent of Police (SP) Al Mamun of CID filed this case at Banani police station in the capital. After that, Abul Kashem was arrested.
A few days after his arrival in the country in 2017, a person interested in becoming the director of the proposed People’s Bank rented a house to Abul Kashem in Gulshan. Even though the initiative to establish a bank failed, he bought that flat in house number 5 of road number 109 of Gulshan-2 area. After the arrest, his Dhaka Metro-G-45-7821 car was found lying under the house.
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director Uttam Kumar Mondal sent a letter to the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, an organization dedicated to preventing money laundering, on June 1.
It is said that Abul Kashem, despite not having the wealth to become a bank chairman, showed assets of 40 crore rupees in America while sitting in Bangladesh. Manzoor Alam Shikder, owner of e-commerce company Alesha Mart, has been accused of laundering Tk 150 crore to Abul Kashem in the United States. Former Chief Economist of Bangladesh Bank Mustafa K Mujeri said that people are now earning money in various legal and illegal ways. Being the owner of a bank is a matter of prestige, many people have given him money for this. Bangladesh Bank has given initial approval and recognized him.
Whether there is a real need for a bank in the country has not been considered. The initial approval of this bank was given on political decision. For this a good criteria should be fixed for becoming a bank director. Not only financial but also social status should be considered. Then the situation of going to jail for cheating will not arise.
The related source also said that Abul Kashem limited his business after joining Awami League politics. In 2017, when an influential person of the Awami League government visited the United States, he developed a friendship with him. Then the person assured Abul Kashem to give the bank certificate.
After that, he came to the country and took the initiative to form the People’s Bank. As per rules, setting up a bank requires a capital of Tk 500 crore. In the bank’s application form submitted to Bangladesh Bank, Farzana Hossain, director of Dishari Industries, Mukitur Rahman, director of Tama Construction, Aslam Serniabat, owner of car sales center Car Selection, Rezaul Hossain, representative of Sumi Apparels, Managing Director (MD) of Madina Pharmaceutical, Moha were as directors. Zakir Hossain Patwari, Khan Brothers Group MD Tofail Kabir Khan, Khandkar Badrul Ahsan, owner of Khandkar Tower in Gulshan, Tanzima Shahtaz, representative of Digant Sweaters, Amjad Khan, MD of Shwan International and Samiha Azim, representative of Sinest Apparel. Apart from this, former Vice Chairman of Meghna Bank Abdul Alim Khan was also with him. Some of them paid money in advance to become directors. Many of them are not getting that money back now.
It is known that Abul Kashem took Tk 100 crore from the e-commerce company Alesha Mart by making him a director of People’s Bank and investing in the stock market. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police has registered a case against Abul Kashem in this incident. He was also banned from traveling abroad. Within a few hours, he was arrested from the capital’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Wednesday midnight. Abul Kashem is currently in jail.
The investigation officer of the case filed against Abul Kashem, Inspector of Financial Crime Unit of CID. Moniruzzaman said that the immigration police brought Abul Kashem to the CID on Thursday morning. After that he was sent to the court asking for remand and the date of hearing was fixed on June 25. Along with that, the court ordered to send Abul Kashem to jail.
Several Bangladeshi expatriates from Sandwip in Brooklyn said that Abul Kashem alias Ekashi Kashem is the owner of Sparrow Contracting in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Established Kashem Contracting in 1987. About 20 years ago, Sandwip, who was based in Brooklyn, ran for president in the association’s election and got just 81 votes. Since then, his name has been changed to Ekashi Kashem. He is known by this name in New York.
Abul Kashem was born in 1952. His father is Abu Bakar Siddique of Rahmatpur, Sandwip, Chittagong. Abul Kashem stated in the documents submitted to the bank that he completed his secondary education in 1973 from AB High School in Sandwip, his higher secondary education in 1975 from Omar Gani College and his BA from Nazirhat Degree College in Chittagong in 1978. Since coming to the United States in the eighties, he has lived in Brooklyn.
Like Abul Kashem, half a hundred Awami League leaders and activists are involved in various businesses in the country. All of them are doing money transactions freely in the country and abroad. The leaders and workers of Awami League in the United States have been frightened by the arrest of Abul Kashem. As a result, no one is returning to the country.
A month has passed since Awami League vice-president Abul Kashem was arrested, but he is still in office. No action has been taken by the party even in the last one month.
On the other hand, last year on October 14, 2022, the Boston-based New England Awami League leader was accused of trying to rape an American black woman and was sent to jail by Thomas Drechsler of the Superior Court of Salem City, Massachusetts. Asif Ahmed Chowdhury aka Asif Babu (62) was arrested and sent to jail pending conviction for serious charges including rape and strangulation.
Asif Babu is the vice-president of the New England (Boston) Awami League (Yusuf-Iqbal) group divided into two groups in Boston and the former president of the Boston-based Bangladesh Association of New England (BAIN). He is a resident of Medford, near Boston. At the end of the week-long judicial process, he was ordered to be remanded in custody. On November 8 last year, Asif Babu was found guilty and given the final sentence. Asif Babu’s country house is in Kattali village of Pahartali police station of Chittagong district.
Asif Babu was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a black woman in Salem City. He contacted her about a room for rent two years ago. Asif Ahmed Chowdhury alias Asif Babu was acquitted by a Salem Superior Court jury of more serious charges including rape as well as strangulation. After a week-long trial, on October 14, Judge Thomas Drechsler revoked Chowdhury’s bail and ordered him to be held pending sentencing. On November 8, Asif Babu was found guilty of indecent assault and battery.
The black woman was living in an emergency shelter on Federal Street in Salem. He testified he was unable to pay rent after losing his job due to the pandemic. While in the shelter with her then-9-year-old daughter, she searched for a place to stay in Medford so she could return to the school her daughter attended before the evacuation. The woman gave this testimony during the interrogation of the prosecutor Kate McDougal.
He told jurors he could afford to stay in a single room. He responds to an ad for rent on Asif Babu’s Facebook marketplace and plans to take the room.
A few days later on 17 September 2020, Asif Babu planned to meet the woman in Salem so that he could sign a rental agreement. He testified that the woman was sexually assaulted and assaulted during that meeting.
The woman’s 9-year-old daughter told jurors she woke up to ‘a lot of commotion’ and peeked out of the bedroom to see Asif Babu standing over her mother. He couldn’t get up at all. The girl told jurors she returned to the bedroom and called 911.
When Asif Babu was sentenced to two years in the incident, he did not take any measures to expel him from the New England (Boston) Awami League (Yusuf-Iqbal) group. On the other hand, it has been alleged that Asif Babu, accused of attempted rape, has signed a petition seeking the release of the inmate. The United States Awami League leaders did not take any action even after knowing this incident.
Awami League of the United States has decided against these leaders who were arrested and sentenced? Are they still on the committee of the United States Awami League, or have they been expelled from the party? President of Awami League of the United States Dr Siddiqur Rahman and Acting General Secretary Abdus Samad Azad did not give any answer in response to these questions after the arrest of Abul Kashem and Mohiuddin Deoan.
Siddiqur Rahman mentioned in the press release of United States Awami League on his Facebook page that the proposed People’s Bank Chairman, United States Awami League Vice President Abul Kashem has been arrested by the police of Dhaka on charges of money laundering. The news has been published in electronic and print media abroad in the country which has deteriorated the image of United States Awami League. Through discussion with the center, as per the rules of the organization, action will be taken as soon as possible with due seriousness, but he did not take any action even in a month. In response to a question, he said that since Kashem was not punished, the party did not take action against him. But the convicted leader of Boston, Asif Babu, is still in office. The party did not take any decision against him.