A hospital owner in Bangladesh has been arrested on charges of fraud to a tune of about $350,000 for allegedly issuing thousands of fake Covid-19 test results to deceive people.
Mohammad Shahed, the hospital owner, was arrested on July 15, nine days after he managed to evade the authorities, when he was trying to cross a river to escape to India, wearing a burqa -- to hide himself from the public and police, officials said.
His arrest has thrown light on a wide-ranging scam that has exposed the dark side of the health sector of Bangladesh.
Shahed took advantage of the delays in test results of coronavirus. Those seeking tests have faced frustrating delays, with many forced to wait in long queues, sometimes overnight. The new scandal could affect public confidence in testing, and further dissuade people from getting tested altogether.
A court in Dhaka on Thursday granted Shahed's custody to police for 10 days.
Lt Col Ashique Billah, Director of Legal and Media wing of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the elite force of Bangladesh, in an exclusive interview with IANS on Friday night, said that Shahed is a 'Cheat-Idol', who had made cheating an art, and has confessed to providing patients with fake negative test results for the novel coronavirus.
Q: What did Shahed say during interrogation?
A: He has confessed to all his crimes.
Q: What crime did he commit, as per his confession?
A: He admitted that he made many fake reports without testing Covid-19. Shahed also confessed about charging people for Covid-19 treatments and providing the fake documents certifying they did not contract the coronavirus, even after agreeing with the government that he would provide those services free of charge.
Q: When Shahed was arrested, there was raid at his office and fake currency notes were also found there. What is his statement in this regard?
A: Based on the information he provided, we traced his secret hideout. A lot of fake notes were found there. He used to give fake money to those who sold goods to him. He used to hide fake money inside the bundle of money. He also sold counterfeit money but the RAB has not yet found any evidence of that.
Besides Shahed, the police also questioned JKG Healthcare chief executive officer Ariful Chowdhury in the presence of his wife, Dr Sabrina Arif Chowdhury, also the chairperson of the company on Thursday, and quizzed both of them.
During the initial investigation, it emerged that JKG swindled huge amount of money through its telemedicine services. A probe would be launched into the matter to discover where the money has gone, a police officer told IANS.
During questioning, the couple confessed to issuing fake reports of coronavirus. But, they blamed each other for their fraudulent activities.
A Dhaka court on Friday sent JKG Health Care chairperson and physician Sabrina Arif Chowdhury on 2-day fresh remand.
Sabrina was arrested on July 12.
She was also suspended from her post as a physician at National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases.
Police officers said Sabrina blamed her husband. Also, she claimed that she has divorced her husband, and that she only served as a volunteer at JKG Health Care.