Employees' salary-commission owed, $10 million defamation suit pending
Ajkal sold in New York for lack of money, Counter-complaints about advertising bills
Staff Reporter: The popular New York weekly Ajkal was sold four months ago due to severe financial crisis. Since the sale of the popular New York newspaper, former owners and employees have been accused of collecting huge advertising bills. Retrenchment of employees with huge salary arrears on allegations of misappropriation/slander was a regular occurrence. While investigating on the basis of these complaints, various internal incidents of the newspaper and unknown sensational information behind the sale have come out.
Zakaria Masud Jiko, the former editor and publisher of the weekly Ajkal, complained four months after the sale of Ajkal, that Abu Bakar Siddique, the former advertising manager working in his newspaper, did not account for the collection of advertising bills for the last 2/3 years. In this situation, the newspaper came up with a proposal to sell it. He had already talked to someone about that. When I expressed my interest in selling the newspaper, Abu Bakar Siddique arranged a meeting with Shah Nawaz, an established businessman from New York, who was now an interested buyer the newspaper. At a restaurant after a lot of discussion in the meeting we both sides settle on a final price. We transact money according to all conditions. Zakaria Masud alleged that Siddique took a commission of 12 percent for the sale of the newspaper. He said that for the past nine years, Siddiq has earned a lot of money by working as an advertising manager these days. He said that for the last 2/3 years, he has not given any account of one-time and cash advertisements. With this money, he bought two flats in Dhaka, business and a new Lexus car and is living royally in New York.
Ziku complained that very recently, on June 27, 2023, Siddiq deposited a check in the name of Ajkal by ‘Samia Inc’ in New York in the amount of 360 dollars. Ruma’s husband, a well-known New York attorney, also gave her $500 in cash for an outstanding advertising bill. But he did not tell this to Jiko.
In response to the question that Siddique is not paying your advertising money properly, then why did you not fire Siddique, Jiko said, many people have turned the account by saying that you will give it today and give it tomorrow. He almost held me hostage. I had no option but to fire him.
This reporter searched for about two weeks based on the source of Zakaria Masud Jiko’s complaint. Talked to former journalists and employees of the newspaper. Almost all of them complained that many of those who worked under Zakaria Masud Jiko were forced to leave their jobs due to allegations of embezzlement or slander. And the main reason for these complaints is to deprive them of due salary or advertising commission. Accused of misappropriation of money, those employees protest and fail to collect dues, leaving them with no choice but to curse. There are several allegations of such incidents against Jiko.
Abu Bakar Siddique, the former advertising manager of weekly Ajkal, was asked about the collection of outstanding advertising bills. If he owed me anything, he would not pay me the commission that was negotiated for the sale of newspaper. He used to stop it. Also, how did he fire the newspaper sales and advertising manager without accounting? Interestingly, 2 months after the sale of the newspaper, Last 15th June, 6th July and 6th August 2023, Zakaria Masud paid $30000 thousand dollars in 3 checks for the ad commission dues of the last 3/4 years. Every check is written subject to Ajkal’s due collection (subject to Ajkal’s due collection). The checks have already bounced from the bank as the said amount was not credited to his TD bank account. which is punishable by law. I have not taken any action in this regard yet. Then how did I embezzle the money from the ad due bill?” asked Siddique.
Siddique said, Weekly Ajkal is undoubtedly a popular newspaper in New York. By working in this newspaper for 9 consecutive years, I became known to the expatriate community. Expatriates know and know me only through this newspaper. I am proud of that. I was involved with family these Ajkal. I was always by their side in happiness and sadness. Jiko Bhai and his wife considered me one of their family.
Regarding the complaint brought by Jiko, Siddique said that in February-March last, Jiko Bhai fell into extreme financial crisis. It becomes very difficult to extract the newspaper. He called me and said that it is not possible for me to run both Ajkal and IBTV simultaneously. Then I advise him to leave either one. He expressed interest in quitting these Ajkal. He can’t wait any longer. He was suffering from extreme depression. He kept on urging me again and again and told me to manage a party soon. I don’t want to run a newspaper for another day. When I spoke to Shah Nawaz, an established homecare businessman in New York about this issue, he expressed his interest in buying Ajakal. Let me talk. After that, we also arrange to sit in a restaurant to finalize everything. In that day’s meeting, Zakaria Masud Jiko hit his first weekly price of half a million ($500,000) dollars. The buyer Shah Nawaz started the call with 2 lakh dollars. After many fluctuations, the final price was set at $350,000 dollars. Then when the topic of my outstanding salary and commission came up, Jiko offered to deduct $25,000 and pay the remaining amount through cashier’s check instead of check. Shah Nawaz agreed to his proposal. After adding the outstanding salary of an employee of Dhaka, a total of $28,000 dollars was deducted and the remaining money was paid through cashier’s check. Shah Nawaz, a homecare businessman established in New York, took the ownership of Ajkal. In the first installment, Shah Nawaz paid $2 lakh through a cashier’s cheque. At that time, as promised by Jiko, instead of 12% commission, Jiko gave Siddique a check of $22,000 in the first round.
Siddique did not object to paying less commission at the rate of 1 percent. Earlier, Jiko promised to pay $30,000 dollars for the old outstanding commission once the newspaper is sold. But he didn’t. After a lot of wandering, he paid $30000 dollars in 3 checks for the last 3/4 years of advertising commission due on 15th June, 6th July and 6th August 2023. In contrast, no money is deposited in the bank. The check has already returned from the bank.
Talking about two flats in Dhaka, business and a new Lexus car, Siddique said, I used to get a salary of $800/1000 dollras per week without commission. I don’t have family here. I live in a $500 dollar sublet house. There is no cost. Siddique asked if it is possible to buy a flat and business in Dhaka with in 9 years. He said that everyone in America knows that you can buy a new car by depositing 1/2 thousand dollars, Mr. Ziku should also know this.
On June 27, 2023, in the name of Ajkal in the name of ‘Samia Ink’ in New York, Siddique said that Jiko sold Azkal last April, in relation to taking a check of 360 dollars in the name of Ajkal and $500 dollars for the outstanding bill of attorney Ruma’s husband’s advertisement. If someone pay checks in Ajal’s name in June, it will go to the current owner’s account. and if I have deposited in my account or taken cash from someone, then what is wrong? The 3 checks he gave me for $30,000 were written to be collected for outstanding bills.
Siddique said, how did the magazine come out if I did not pay the advertising bill properly for 3/4 years? How to rent a house and pay employees and how to run your family? It does not take 9 years to verify the authenticity of a person. If I had any lack of integrity, I would have been fired within a year or two. As he has done to many others in the past.
Talked about this issue with current editor and publisher of Weekly Azkal Shah Nawaz. He first admitted to deducting $28,000.
He said the first meeting with Jiko was held on May 4, 2023 regarding the issue of newspaper sale. Former editor and publisher Zakaria Masud Jiko finally agreed to sell Ajkal for $350,000 dollars after many negotiations sitting at Tangra restaurant in Queens Boulevard, New York. The contract was finalized on May 5 through an attorney. Later, when he requested cashier’s check instead of personal check, I agreed and paid it in two instalments. First 2 lakh dollars and then 1.5 lakh dollars. Shah Nawaz said that after all the work of sale and transfer was completed, expatriate readers and advertisers were informed through a press conference at Golden Edge Home Care Party Hall on May 10.
He complained that after the sale of the newspaper (May 5) another $15000 thousand dollars was deposited in Jiko’s account for the advance bill of long-term advertising. I am calling him again and again to recover this money but he is not picking up the phone. However, Shah Nawaz mentioned that strict action will be taken against Jiko if he exaggerates any issue these days.
Ajkal’s former advertising manager Anisur Rahman Anis said with great sadness that in the beginning he was in charge of Ajkal’s advertising manager. I quit these Ajkal due to not being paid proper salary and commission and getting a new job in another newspaper in the same position. Out of a total commission of $66,274 from 2012 to March 2017, $35,513 is still outstanding. He did not pay the dues despite repeated requests. Spinning for last 5 years. Total commission list taken about 10 times. But even today he did not pay the due amount.
Anis said, Jiko cheated not only me but many others, which all expats in New York know. Like me, they have gone through a lot of hardships with their families. Not only Ajkal’s journalists or employees, but also a large number of expats in other business related matters will get huge sums of money from Jiko. Anis believes that Jiko’s Ajkal newspaper was lost because of the curse of not paying the salary of these helpless people.
Kazi Rahat Shams used to work on graphics design and PDF version of Ajkal newspaper from Dhaka. He used to work with a team of 6 people these days. Salary was fixed at 70 thousand taka (Bangladeshi currency) per month. From the Corona period, he used to pay 40 thousand taka instead of 70 thousand taka every month. In the last 3/4 years he has dues of Tk 7 lakh 20 thousand. He has not paid that amount even today.
Meanwhile, one of his team members is doing all the work efficiently with Rubel. He is still working nowadays. Rahat pointed out that today’s editors and related people are doing a big fraud on him.
$10 million defamation case is pending against Ajkal for publishing fake news
A defamation suit of 105 crores (10 million dollars) is pending against the weekly newspaper Ajkal published from New York for publishing fake news influenced by the words of a friend. New York Hewlett, Long Island expatriate businessman Mohammad Yasin said in a press conference that he filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in protest of the news published on the last March 3, 2023 issue titled ‘SBA loan: Accusation of embezzling 5 lakh dollars: Bangladeshi arrested for fraud’.
In a written speech at the press conference, Yasin said that a report titled “SBA Loan: Accused of embezzling 5 lakh dollars: Bangladeshi arrested for cheating” was published on the front page of the newspaper on March 3. The information published about him is completely false, fabricated, baseless and vindictive. He strongly condemned and protested the news. He said that the news published in Ajkal has personally defamed him and his family. Because he does not know anything about the published news and the authorities have not asked him to know anything about it or he has no say in the said report. According to the published report, he had cheated a Bangladeshi named SK Anwar of $500,000 and the police arrested him from his home. He is in police custody, these facts are completely false and fabricated.
Yasin mentioned that he had a business relationship with SK Anwar and at one point had to use his social security number. Which he is fully aware of. But there is no question of him stealing any personal information. Also, what is said about SBA loans is not true either. During the time of Covid-19, when the two got a loan of 84 thousand dollars from a business company, SK Anwar as a business partner was paid half of the loan amount of 42 thousand dollars in cash. And Yasin never worked in his shop but managed the shop as the owner of the store. He later forcibly closed the shop whose video he has saved. Yasin feels that SK Anwar has cheated him by falsely accusing him of taking advantage of his simplicity.
Also the allegation that Yasin has been arrested is also not true. Originally: Following a complaint by SK Anwar, he was called to the Intelligence Bureau. After speaking with him there, detectives sent him to the District Attorney’s office with the necessary documents. Later he was sent back home from there. Basically: No case was filed against Yasin and he did not have to appear in any court. The district attorney dismissed the charges.
Yasin pointed out that he is a businessman. Doing business with integrity. But he is deeply saddened by the false allegations leveled against him and published in Ajkal, which has defamed him and his family.
He wants to reveal the real truth through the journalists of New York and inform everyone in the country and abroad.
But the interesting thing is that several journalists of Azkal came without invitation to Yasin’s press conference. Lately, Yasin’s former business partner, SK Anwar, who is not a journalist, started doing native-style Mastani by pretending to be a friend of the editor these days. When the journalists present objected to this, he later left the place. Many believe that he (SK Anwar) published the fake news because of his fabricated allegations.
Speaking at the end of the press conference, Yasin told this reporter that all preparations for his defamation case against Weekly Ajkal have been completed. When asked about the amount of money claimed in the defamation case, he said it is better not to reveal it but it could be 10 million dollars (Bangladeshi currency 105 crores) or more.