ACC quizzes ex-DG of health services over graft charges

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-08-12 13:11:46 BdST

Abul Kalam Azad, the former DG of health services, has been interrogated by the Anti-Corruption Commission as part of an investigation into the allegations of graft levelled at the agency.

Azad arrived at the commission’s headquarters in Dhaka's Segunbagicha at 10 am on Wednesday and was later quizzed by a team led by ACC Director Mir Md Joinul Abedin Shibli.

The ACC said it had received allegations that some officials and other employees of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Directorate General of Health Services and Directorate General of Drug Administration, in collusion with each other, procured low-quality masks, PPE and other health gear and embezzled millions by supplying them to various hospitals.

The commission formed a four-member committee on Jun 15 to investigate the allegations.

As part of the investigation, three officials, including a deputy director of the Central Medical Stores Depot were questioned by the ACC on Jul 20.

Azad has been asked to appear at the commission's office again on Thursday.

Azad resigned as the chief of the Directorate General of Health Services, a key agency in the fight against the pandemic, on Jul 21 amid a series of scams related to COVID-19 tests.

He came under public scrutiny in March when COVID-19 struck Bangladesh and gave rise to the scandals in the health sector.

It began with the ordinary surgical masks passed as N95, a type of respirator that is crucial for health workers in the fight against COVID-19, at government hospitals before the fake coronavirus test scams involving Regent Hospital and JKG Health Care started to come out.

The deal with Regent Hospital was signed on Mar 21 in the presence of Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Azad and other high officials.

The authorities later sealed off the headquarters and two branches of Regent Hospital in Dhaka for issuing fake COVID-19 test reports and other irregularities.