Bangladesh will open an investigation against Ambassador SM Abul Kalam if Kuwait brings any allegation against him in a case that charges MP Shahid Islam with human trafficking and money laundering, reports bdnews24.com.
“Let’s look at the complaints first. An investigation will be launched if these complaints appear true,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Tuesday.
Laxmipur-2 MP Shahid was arrested on charges of human trafficking and money laundering in Kuwait on Jun 08. Prosecutors brought charges against Shahid after hearing testimonies of five Bangladeshi workers. They claimed to have paid up to 3,000 dinars in exchange for being brought to Kuwait. They were also paying annual sums to renew their residency visas.
Shahid Islam, nicknamed Papul, was sent to Kuwait’s central prison for 21 days after interrogations of 17 days.
Kuwait had earlier frozen the bank accounts of Shahid and his company following his arrest. Shahid holds about five million Kuwaiti dinars, or Tk 1.38 billion, in those accounts.
After the charges against Shahid came to light, some media reports mentioned his alleged links to Ambassador Kalam. Minister Momen said: “We have read the reports. The complaints are being published.”
Kalam’s contractual appointment ends this month and he will fly back to Bangladesh, Momen said.
“We have finalised the next ambassador for Kuwait,” he added.
Kalam, an Awami League leader and businessman from Chattogram, was appointed as the ambassador to the Middle Eastern country in 2016. Prior to his diplomatic assignment, he was the then vice-president of the Awami League’s Chattogram South unit and also served as the president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
‘NO NEW INFORMATION’ ON SHAHID
Although a month has gone by since the arrest of MP Shahid, the Kuwaiti government was yet to officially deliver any information to Bangladesh, the foreign minister said.
“Upon hearing the news [Shahid’s arrest], we asked our ambassador to provide information -- the Kuwaiti government’s version of why he was arrested,” Momen said.
“It’s been a week since then and he is yet to give us anything,” he added.
The minister, however, pointed out that the pandemic lockdown in Kuwait caused the hold-up.
“We sent directives that if he [MP Shahid] or his team wants our consular services, we will definitely provide it. This is a standing order and is applicable to everyone.”
The foreign minister then brought up the government’s stance on human trafficking and money laundering.
“This is very depressing -- more so because such a complaint has been brought against a Bangladeshi MP abroad, in Kuwait, at a time when we are putting so much effort into preventing trafficking,” Momen said.
“The Kuwait media mentioned two misdeeds -- trafficking and money laundering. But the Kuwait government is yet to tell us something officially.”
Momen went on to say: “He did not take any government passport with him. He’s been doing business there for 30 years. He is the chief executive officer and managing director of a company there.”