ACC sues Shahed, 4 DGHS officials
Court Correspondent :
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday prosecuted four officials of the Health Directorate along with Mohammad Shahed in connection with the deal between the government and the Regent Hospital for COVID-19 tests and treatment.
Md Farid Ahmmed Patwary, a Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission, started a case against the five people at one of its Dhaka offices on Wednesday, the agency's spokesman Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told media-people.
The graft-busters have accused the four officials of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Shahed, the Chairman of the private facility, of embezzling Tk 33.4 million through irregularities after signing a deal.
Regent Hospital's license was also expired before the signing of the agreement.
The officials accused in the case are Aminul Hasan, former DGHS Director, its Deputy Director Md Yunus Ali, Assistant Director Md Shafiur Rahman and Research Officer Md Didarul Islam.
The accused, found involved with the offences stated in the case during initial investigations, said Dilwar Bakth, the ACC Secretary. The authorities shut down the hospital's two branches in Dhaka in early July after receiving allegations that it gave results without conducting necessary corona-virus tests and charged the patients extra fees even after taking the cost of treatment from the government according to the deal. The DGHS signed the deal on Mar 21 after the government detected the first COVID-19 case.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Abul Kalam Azad, then the Director General of Health Services, and a number of secretaries attended the signing function. However, the directorate later said it had signed the contract on orders from high-ups of the Health Ministry.
Facing criticism over irregularities in the health sector during pandemic, Azad stepped down. However, the ACC quizzed Azad during the initial investigation into the Regent contract.
"It isn't finished yet. If we find someone involved during investigation, we will name them in the charge-sheet," Secretary Bakth said.
The complainant alleges in the case that the accused colluded with each other to transform the "closed" hospital without a renewed license into a facility dedicated to COVID-19 patients. They got the memorandum of understanding signed and samples of 3,939 patients tested for free at the government lab in the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM), according to the case dossier.
The hospital reportedly received fees of over Tk 13.7 million, or Tk 3,500 per COVID-19 patient, the complainant said.
It also drew over Tk 19.6 million as monthly charge for physicians, nurses, other health workers, officials and staffers, he alleged.