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Matiur removed from NBR, ACC begins illegal wealth probe

Govt also bars him from attending Sonali Bank board meeting
Staff Correspondent
23 Jun 2024 17:00:02 | Update: 24 Jun 2024 09:41:22
Matiur removed from NBR, ACC begins illegal wealth probe

Following a firestorm of criticism and social media frenzy surrounding his son's extravagant Eid-ul-Azha goat purchase worth Tk 12 lakh, National Board of Revenue (NBR) Member and President of the NBR’s Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal Md Matiur Rahman has been transferred to the Internal Resources Division (IRD) of the finance ministry.

According to a ministry circular issued on Sunday, his transfer would be effective immediately. The circular did not mention why the action was taken but said it was issued in the public interest.

According to various sources, Matiur joined the 13th batch of customs from the 11th batch of trade cadre by changing the cadre. After joining the new cadre, his influence and wealth began to increase. This rise started during his tenure as the joint commissioner at the Custom House, Chattogram.

Over the years, Matiur has reportedly built up a lot of wealth anonymously. This list includes shares in various companies, land and amusement parks, and partnerships in capital market brokerage houses. His children also own dozens of companies in their names.

Matiur has since faced severe criticism over claims of acquiring illegal wealth amounting to thousands of crores of taka in Bangladesh, with alleged investments in Singapore, the United States, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.

These allegations surfaced after a video went viral showing Matiur’s son Mushfiqur Rahman Ifat buying the pricy goat ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.


ACC forms probe committee

On Sunday, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) formed a three-member committee to investigate the accusations of amassing illegal and money laundering wealth against Matiur, ACC Secretary Khorsheda Yasmin told reporters.

The probe committee is headed by ACC Deputy Director Md Anwar Hussain and its other two members are Assistant Director Mahmudul Hasan and Deputy Assistant Director Sabikun Nahar.

Khorsheda said that ACC on June 4 decided to conduct an investigation against Matiur. “The probe has started.”

Prior to this, according to media reports, investigations into four allegations against Matiur did not see the light of day. Asked whether the new investigation will work, the ACC secretary told reporters, “The commission will review this matter. The level or nature of the previous complaints may change. We don't know yet. This happened a long time ago.”

“This is a new incident. The commission has taken this into cognisance. A team is working. Let them work independently. We will find out the result,” she added.

Responding to another query, she also said that actions will definitely follow if someone else is found involved.


Sonali Bank board issue

Meanwhile, the government has also ordered Matiur not to participate in the Board of Directors’ meeting of the state-owned Sonali Bank PLC.

Sonali Bank Chairman Ziaul Hasan Siddiqui told The Business Post that the Financial Institutions Division of the finance ministry decided that Matiur will not attend the bank’s board meetings in future.

"We have informed our board members about this decision," he added.

The bank’s board meeting was held on Sunday without Matiur. It has been known that he may be removed from the post of director within this week, according to sources.

Ziaul said it was not the responsibility of the board to appoint or remove Matiur because he is a representative of the government to the Sonali Bank board.

The government appointed Matiur as a director of Sonali Bank in February 2022 for three years.


Where is Matiur?

Senior NBR official Matiur used to sit in an office room on the 11th floor of the NBR building in the capital’s Agargaon. He did not come to the office on Sunday.

His whereabouts are still unknown and his mobile phone has been found switched off.

The employees of his office said that Matiur has been absent since offices reopened after the Eid holidays. NBR sources said that he has been verbally advised to stay on leave.

After the goat purchase scandal surfaced, Matiur claimed Mushfiqur Rahman Ifat was not his son. Later, Feni-2 MP Nizam Uddin Hazari confirmed that Ifat was indeed Matiur’s son and the child of his maternal cousin who is the second wife of Matiur.

Meanwhile, Matiur’s son and second wife were not found at their home in the Dhanmondi area. According to media reports, there are rumours that all members of Matiur's second family have left the country.