The Industrial Promotion and Development Company of Bangladesh Ltd is auctioning off 50 buses belonging to AMK Ltd after that company defaulted on a loan worth Tk 10 crore.
Six prominent Dhaka transport companies, however, claim that they had paid AMK Ltd over Tk 1.5 crore as advance against these very same buses, which the company did not hand over to them.
The six bus companies include Dul Dul Paribahan, BEVCO and four others from which Ajmal received partial payments in 2004 and 2005.
Ajmal Kabir, the managing director of AMK Ltd, has been accused of cheating the transport companies by taking advances against more than 100 buses and then refusing to deliver, using his political muscle in the last BNP-Jamaat government’s tenure to evade arrest.
New Age has learnt that the Rapid Action Battalion in Dhaka detained Ajmal Kabir on February 26 but mysteriously released him some hours later without filing any charges against him. Sources in RAB admitted to New Age that Ajmal was detained by them, but refused to divulge why they released him without charges.
New Age has learned that Ajmal was in Dhaka for two weeks after his detention and subsequent release by the RAB, but flew to Singapore a month ago.
In 2005, Ajmal wrote two cheques totalling Tk 10 lakh to Dul Dul Paribahan, drawn on Jamuna Bank, as a refund of their payment but the cheques bounced when they were submitted, said the owners of the transport company.
The transport company owners filed at least two general diaries against Ajmal in 2005 and 2006, but claim that he dodged arrest by using his influential contacts in the BNP. Another company lodged a case at the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court under Sections 420 and 406 against Ajmal.
A first information report (FIR) was lodged at the Gulshan thana against Ajmal (copies of which have been obtained by New Age) for the same charges by another company earlier this month.
Santosh Kumar Das, who heads AC Bus Paribahan, told New Age that Ajmal had threatened to kill him when he asked for a refund on his advance or the delivery of the promised buses. The same has been claimed by a director of Ajmery Paribahan in his general diary filed at Gulshan thana.
Ajmal Kabir collected Tk 50 lakh from Bevco, Tk 59 lakh from Fara Paribahan, Tk 16 lakh from DulDul Paribahan, Tk 7.5 lakh from Ajmery Paribahan, Tk 23 lakh from AC Bus Paribahan Ltd and Tk 10 lakh from Taranga Bus Company Ltd.
In an application to the RAB, a director of Ajmery Paribahan claimed that Ajmal had promised to deliver the buses to them within 90 days after the advance was paid to him. In a legal notice the company claims that Ajmal cheated them by selling their buses to someone else.
A source close to Ajmal told New Age that he had imported 50 buses, against which he had made overlapping commitments to multiple clients.
The transport company owners claim that soon after Ajmal’s arrest, RAB softened their stance against him, and initially promised to the companies that instead of arresting Ajmal, they would make sure he refunded their money.
‘On the day of the scheduled repayment, a RAB official claimed that Ajmal’s arrest and financial fraud were beyond their jurisdiction,’ said Mamunur Rashid, general manager of Bangladesh Environmental Vehicle Co Ltd (Bevco).
The transport company owners claim that Ajmal was released after he agreed to settle only one of the outstanding accounts, that of Titanic Bus Company.
‘Ajmal collected Tk 59 lakh from us on July 2004, promising to provide us with 20 CNG buses. After the payment he did not meet us and refused to take our calls,’ said Quamrul Haq of Fara Paribahan.
‘We were promised 15 CNG buses at Tk 25.86 lakh each. Ajmal collected an advance of Tk 15.5 lakh from us in October 2004, for which he promised to get us a loan sanctioned,’ said Morsheduzzaman, chairman of DulDul Paribahan. ‘Afterwards, Ajmal never contacted us or let us meet him.’
‘Documents reveal that Ajmal cheated the Bevco bus company of Tk 50 lakh. However, the accused was not available for inquiry,’ said sub-inspector Sohrab Hossain of Gulshan thana, who is also the investigation officer of the case.
New Age contacted Ajmal several times to discuss the
accusations against him, and though he sought two
appointments to clarify his position, he failed to show up on both occasions and has been incommunicado since he fled to Singapore.
This article was first published in New Age on April 09, 2007