Wednesday, September 19, 2018 | ePaper

Concerted efforts needed to root out corruption

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THE Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case with Kishoreganj Model Police Station on January 17 accusing Setaful Islam, former land acquisition officer at the District's Deputy Commissioner's Office, of misappropriating Tk 5 crore. Later, the ACC recovered Tk 92 lakh of that amount raiding the house of one of the Setaful's accomplices, said the corruption watchdog, as per recent report of a local daily.

The ACC gave the money to the DC of Kishoreganj following permission from a district court. DC Sarwar Morshed Chowdhury said his office carried out an internal probe against Setaful and found that he had embezzled Tk 8.7 crore from the land acquisition fund. Receiving the transfer order, Setaful drove straight to a branch of Sonali Bank in Kishoreganj with sacks and withdrew a huge amount of cash, witnesses told investigators.

Once the matter was informed to the authorities and his colleagues, Setaful fled the scene with the money. The amount withdrawn at the time was Tk 5 crore, according to the ACC. Sources at the DC Office said Setaful, with the help of some of his seniors, misappropriated over Tk 10 crore from the fund.

In his confessional statement before a judicial magistrate, Setaful said a former DC of the district and Additional Commissioner (Revenue) were involved in the crime, reports our Mymensingh correspondent, quoting ACC sources. When any land is acquired for implementing government's development projects, the Land Ministry recommends compensating the land owners. The compensation money is sent to the District Administration before it reaches the land owner.

The embezzlement of public funds is nothing new. In the last year alone a UP Chairman was arrested on charges of embezzling rice, an on duty officer of a government warehouse gobbled up 42,000 kgs of rice, audit officials gobbled up 2.7 crore, a jute mill GM ate up Tk 7 crore in public monies, a Jubo League leader and his wife stole 31 lakhs from a bank, and a public university employee gobbled up 31 lakhs from revenue.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately in all of the above cases the culprits had to face the arm of the law--they could not get away with it. Embezzlement of public funds is just one aspect of corruption. Taking bribes, which is far more intangible, is taking on epidemic proportions.

Unlike simple embezzlement it can't be monitored or traced unless the people directly concerned speak out against it. But this seems unlikely as the people who are most likely to give bribes do so for urgent business or official work. It is impossible to root this out without concerted efforts from all concerned.

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