Ruling Bangladesh Awami League MP for Jhalokathi 1 constituency Bazlul Haque Haroon aka BH Haroon amassed massive wealth in just a matter of five years.
Haroon, also the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Religious Affairs, could not explain how he acquired such a huge amount of wealth within such a short span of time.
A small part of his assets wealth is the much-talked-about Raintree Hotel in the capital.
The name of the hotel came to the light after the two university girls were allegedly raped there. The hotel is jointly owned by Haroon’s wife, his sons and a daughter.
The hotel has been constructed in a residential area without approval from the city development authorities, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha aka Rajuk.
According to information Prothom Alo obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC), the hotel is constructed under a company called The Raintree Dhaka Limited.
The directors of the company are Haroon’s wife Manira Haroon, his three sons - Shah Md Nahian Haroon, Shah Md Adnan Haroon, and Shah Md Mahir Haroon - and daughter Homaira Haroon.
Shah Md Adnan Haroon is the managing director of the hotel.
The construction work of the hotel began in 2012 on a piece of land owned by BH Haroon and the hotel started operations at the beginning of the current year.
Rajuk had sealed off the hotel on 15 April on charges of it running illegally. Rajuk mobile court had also snapped all utility connections to the hotel, but the hotel authorities used their power to get back the connections within a few days.
BH Haroon is a brother-in-law of another AL leader and Premier Bank chairman HBM Iqbal. One of Haroon’s sons has married the daughter of daily Inqilab editor AMM Bahauddin, the son of a former religious affairs minister.
In his affidavit submitted to the election commission in the 2008 general elections, Haroon had claimed he owned wealth worth only Tk 380,0000.
Of them, AL MP showed Tk 662,000 against savings certificates and stock market and said he earned Tk 1600,000 from house rent, Tk 1400,000 from business, and Tk 120,000 from honorarium.
At that time, his wife Manirs had no wealth.
But, the affidavit he submitted to the election before the 2014 general elections shows that he has acquired a huge amount of wealth in only five years.
He said in his affidavit that he and his wife invested as many as Tk 150 million in the share market. Besides, the 2014 affidavit said he has liquid money of Tk 29 million, Tk 6.9 million in banks and also has a permanent bank deposit of Tk 36.8 million.
Apart from these, he owns a seven-katha plot of land in Gazipur, five kathas in the capital’s Mirpur, six katha in Banani, and two plots - 6-katha and 4-katha - in Baridhara, according to the 2014 affidavit.
Furthermore, Haroon gave his younger son Adnan Haroon a total of Tk 130 million for the purchase two ships and gave his older son Nahian Haroon a total of Tk 200 million for his directorship at Premier Bank.
Haroon also deposited a total of Tk 150 million with the Standard Bank in the name of his brother Faizur Rab.
He, however, said in his 2014 affidavit that he took loan of Tk 95.9 million from the Standard Bank, lent a total of Tk 32 million from his wife, and took a loan of Tk 12.4 million in foreign currency.
Alongside, the 2015 annual report of the Premier Bank shows that BH Haroon has ownership in eight companies and he is the chairman of five of the eight companies.
Asked about the abnormal growth of his wealth, Haroon told Prothom Alo, “Wealth has not increased that much. I owned the wealth you mentioned from beforehand.”
When his attention was drawn to four to five multi-storey building he constructed in the capital and asked about the source of money of those buildings, Haroon claimed that he constructed them after taking bank loans.
When Prothom Alo asked how the buildings could be constructed on the loan money as he took the loan from Agrani Bank last year while the buildings were constructed before that, Haroon declined to comment just saying, “Everything cannot be told over the phone.”
Misappropriating customer’s money!
Soon after he was elected an MP, rumours had it that Haroon embezzled Tk 1.34 billion of Premier Bank's customer Khalilur Rahman, owner of Rumi Enterprise.
He was a director of the bank then.
In a complaint filed with the Bangladesh Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission, Khalilur Rahman stated that he was awarded a contract worth Tk 2.04 billion to build 15 thousand houses for the Sidr-affected people. It was project funded by the Saudi Arabian government.
He said that he had withdrawn Tk 0.70 billion from his account, which was with Bangshal branch of the bank, through 297 cheques. However, when he went to the bank to draw the remaining money once the project was completed, the then branch manager, Shamsuddin Chowdhury, said Khalil had already withdrawn the money and closed the account. Shamsuddin is a deputy managing director (DMD) now.
Khalil told the BB and the ACC that Haroon had withdrawn Tk 1.34 billion from the account by forging his signature in 388 cheques.
Most of the money was withdrawn from the Banani branch, which is just 50 yards from Haroon's office.
During that time, Khandaker Fazle Rashid was the managing director (MD) of Premier Bank. He was later the MD of Dhaka Bank, but he has returned to Premier Bank again. He could not be contacted as he is out of the country.
Khalilur alleged that Shamsuddin masterminded this embezzlement, with the help of the then DMD Abu Hanif Khan and two accountants, namely Golam Mostafa Raja and Fariduddin, of Al Homayra Medical Centre, also owned by Haroon.
When contacted, Shamsuddin Chowdhury refused to talk regarding the issue.
Golam Mostafa Raja is now a manager of Raintree Hotel at Banani.
Khalilur said he fears his life. "They are threatening me. I have already filed five general diaries with the Gulshan and Banani police stations. I seek justice from the prime minister." he added.
Haroon does not file tax returns
NBR officials have said that MP Haroon does not file tax returns. Since he could not justify his transactions, he did not file the tax returns between 2009 and 2014.
The NBR has so far filed seven cases against Haroon. Last week, this correspondent learnt that Haroon has settled issues till the 2014-15 financial year. However, he did not file tax returns in 2015-16 and 2016-17, prompting the NBR to slap a fine on him. However, it has so far not been realised.
When asked about this, Haroon said, "That's not true. All the files are okay."
On embezzling money of a customer of his bank, he said, "People are hatching conspiracies against me. These are all false accusations."
*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition is rewritten in English by Abu Taib Ahmed and Mostafa Md Quamrul Hassan