B’desh health workers charged with selling fake Covid certificates

By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 12 (IANS) More than a dozen Bangladeshi health workers have been arrested on charges of selling thousands of fake Covid-19 certificates, officials confirmed on Sunday, as the country reels under a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

The police have arrested Sabrina Chowdhury, JKG Healthcare chairman and physician of the National Heart Institute of Bangladesh, over charges of conducting fraudulent corona test.

The names of Sabrina and her husband Arif Chowdhury came to the light following a recent investigation into the JKG Healthcare, which has allegedly swindled 7.70 crore Bangladeshi Taka by conducting false corona tests.

The scandal came to light after a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raid on Regent Hospital in Dhaka last Monday. The private hospital was one of the health facilities chosen by the government to treat Covid-19 patients.

“The hospital collected more than 10,000 samples and tested only 4,200 of them at different government health facilities. But they issued Covid-19 reports to all,” said Lt. Col. Ashik Billah, spokesman of the elite anti-crime unit of Bangladesh Police.

“Some dishonest people are cheating commoners over the coronavirus crisis by issuing Covid-19 certificates,” Obaidul Quader, a senior minister and general secretary of the ruling Awami League, told the media.

RAB media director Arif Billah said that Regent Hospital authorities prepared fake coronavirus reports at a computer lab located next to the hospital building.

“We found that the hospital’s registration expired in 2014 and it was being run illegally. Moreover, it was charging at least $45 for a coronavirus test and also charged huge amounts of money for treatment although it was supposed to be free, according to an agreement signed with the government in late March,” Billah added.

Meanwhile Nasima Sultana, additional director general of DGHS, told IANS that when the country first detected Covid-19 cases in early March, it was an emergency and the government had urged private hospitals to step up and treat coronavirus patients.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) of Bangladesh has asked all commercial banks to freeze the accounts of Regent Group Chairman Mohammad Shahed, JKG Healthcare Chairman Sabrina Arif Chowdhury, her family members and their organisations on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the police will produce Sabrina Arif Chowdhury before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Monday over the fake Covid-19 test results scam.

Sabrina is the wife of arrested JKG CEO and cardiac surgeon at National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Arif Chowdhury.

Shahed Kabir has carried out a booming business in the name of coronavirus treatment. He even sent a 19.6 million Taka bill to the health directorate. The directorate doesn’t have the authority to pass such a high bill and so it sent it to the ministry. While the bill was being processed, everything came out into the open.

It has been five days since the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided the Regent Hospital, but Shahed Karim still remains at large. The question is, is he being allowed to get away?

“Shahed will have to surrender, otherwise he will be arrested…he has no way to go abroad as his passport has been seized. Measures have been taken to prevent him from crossing the border,” said Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Kamal.

“After getting the investigation report, I can tell you his depth of irregularities,” he added.

There are rumours that Shahed may have escaped to India through Hothatganj in Satkhira.

Eight associates of Shahed were sent to five-day remand by a court on Friday. They were arrested on several charges, including issuing certificates without carrying coronavirus tests.

–IANS
sumi/arm

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