The High Court has handed over the four trustee board members of North South University (NSU) to police on charge of embezzling over Tk 300 crore in the name of buying land for the campus.
The four NSU trustees are- MA Kashem, Benajir Ahmed, Rehana Rahman and Mohammed Shajahan.
The HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo sent them to police custody of the Shahbagh Police Station in Dhaka after rejecting their anticipatory bail petition filed in the corruption case.
The HC bench issued the order on Sunday (May 22) after holding the hearing on the bail petition for the second day. The hearing had begun on Wednesday.
The higher court asked the Shahbagh police station to produce the four accused in the money embezzlement case before the trial court concerned within 24 hours from the time of taking them in their custody.
Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik said that the four NSU trustees are schedule to be handed over to the Shahbagh police in the evening on Sunday after completion of some formalities.
Barrister Mizan Sayeed appeared for the accused in the court on Sunday, while Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan stood in the court on behalf of the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC). Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Assistant Attorney General Anna Alam Khan represented the state.
Earlier on Wednesday, Barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC, former Attorney Generals AF Hassan Ariff and Fida M Kamal, Advocate Yusuf Hossain Humayun and Barrister Mizan Sayeed argued for the accused in the court, while ACC counsel Khurshid Alam Khan also placed his argument. Attorney General AM Amin Uddin, Additional Attorney General Sheikh Mohammad Morshed and Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik were present in the court on that day.
Barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC, Barrister Fida M Kamal and AF Hassan Arif said the clients need anticipatory bail to avoid arrest and police harassment.
ACC counsel Khurshid Alam Khan opposed the bail plea on the ground that the NSU trustee members committed syndicated crimes by embezzling and laundering the funds. Besides, the trustees also committed cognizable offences which are not bailable.
Citing the case dossier, Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan said the accused made the transactions for purchasing the land from 2014 to 2016. The trustees spent Tk 500 crore of the university through overvaluation of the land. They paid Tk 303, 82,13,497 more than the actual price.
Later, landowner Amin Mohammd Hilali paid back the money to the trustee board members personally as bribes. The NSU trustees made the transaction bypassing the syndicate, University Grants Commission and the Education Ministry.
On May 5, the ACC filed the case against six persons, including chairman of the Board of Trustees of North South University and the managing director of Ashaloy Housing and Developers Ltd Azim Uddin Ahmed, for embezzling Tk 303,83 crore in the name of buying land for the campus.
The other accused are- Managing director of Ashalaya Housing and Developers Limited Amin Mohammad Hilali and NSU Board of Trustee members MA Kashem, Benazir Ahmed, Rehana Rahman and Muhammad Shahjahan.
Out of six accused, four members of the NSU trustee board moved the High Court seeking anticipatory bail.
The investigating officer of the ACC’s Deputy Director Farid Ahmed Patwari filed the case.
Earlier, the ACC initiated the investigation into the trustees following a complaint filed by Dr Sufi Sagar Sams, adviser to the Protection for Legal and Human Rights Foundation.
Dr Sufi Sagar Sams said that prime accused in the case Azim Uddin Ahmed might had fled the country. He should be arrested without any delay.
ACC acting secretary Sayeed Mahbub Khan said that the number of accused might increase if evidence was found against someone during the investigation.
According to the case statement, the trustee board members approved a hefty amount for the NSU permanent campus by overstating the land price. Subsequently, the land developer deposited the extra money to the bank accounts of the accused, leading to the embezzlement.
The accused have unjustly benefited themselves by embezzling funds and committed punishable offenses by taking commissions or bribes, states the case. Money laundering also took place through the transfer and conversion of the embezzled amount, according to the ACC.
The anti-graft watchdog said it will also initiate separate inquiry to verify several allegations against NSU such as overcharging students, embezzlement of university funds in the name of fixed-deposit receipts, bribe for recruitments, car purchases by evading duties and availing numerous facilities unethically by the university’s top management.
According to the Private University Act, 2010, the Board of Trustees is the highest governing body of a private university. According to the Memorandum of Association and Articles (Rules and Regulations) of the University, the University is a charitable, welfare-oriented, non-commercial and non-profit educational institution.
The case states that over 9,088 decimal land was bought in the name of campus development of NSU with the consent of some members of the Board of Trustees bypassing the approval of the University Syndicate, University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education. They later withdrew cash from the buyer through cash checks in their own names and kept FDR in their own names.