Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lutfar Confesses: Minu ran business in other's name

Invested Tk 1.8cr in cold storage industry

Rajshahi Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu invested Tk 1.80 crore in cold storage and seed storage business in the name of another businessman to cover his illegal income, said arrested former president of Rajshahi Chamber and Commerce and Industries (RCCI) Lutfar Rahman in a judicial confession.

Lutfar, a close aide of Minu, provided his confessional statement under Section 164 before First Class Magistrate Jonendranath Sarker on Tuesday on completion of two-day interrogation by an anti-corruption taskforce team.

He was taken on a two-day remand after businessman Nurunnabi on August 6 filed two cases against him with Boalia Police Station for extorting Tk 1.30 crore.

Saiful Islam, investigation officer of the extortion case against Lutfar, told the court in writing that Lutfar as a director of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank and RCCI president extorted huge money from many businessmen for approving loans during BNP-led four-party alliance rule.

Meanwhile, it was reported in media several times that Minu had businesses with Lutfar in cold storage, passenger coach and petrol pump businesses.

Minu who recently submitted his wealth statement with the Anti-Corruption Commission did not show any of his partnership businesses with Lutfar.

Judicial confession
Nurunnabi once proposed to Lutfar to start business of cold storage and seed storage but Lutfar declined at first, Lutfar said in his statement.

Later when Lutfar agreed to have partnership in the business, Nurunnabi got Tk 10 crore loan sanctioned for Jamuna Seed Storage project, Lutfar said.

For the loan approval, Nurunnabi gave Tk 18 lakh to Lutfar's employee Mosarraf and the money was used for construction of the cold storage, goes the statement.

Nurunnabi later pulled back his share in the business on the plea of illness, said Lutfar adding that he (Lutfar) then requested another businessman Bairul Islam to invest money.

"When Bairul refused to be involved, I told him to talk to Mayor Minu following Minu's direction," said Lutfar.

"After he met Minu, Bairul agreed to invest."

"Later Mayor Minu told me [Lutfar] on phone to invest his money in the business and he assured cooperation. He promised to provide the construction money in phases and then Minu's share was transferred to Bairul's name."

"The mayor gave me Tk 1.80 crore in seven instalments during the construction...While handing over the money to me, the mayor asked me to give the money to Bairul," said Lutfar in his statement.

Nurunnabi's cases
According to briefs of Nurunnabi's cases, Lutfar had 60 per cent partnership with Nurunnabi in Jamuna Seed Storage Pvte Ltd.

Nurunnabi alleged that Lutfar as a former director of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank took Tk 18 lakh toll from him for releasing Tk 10 crore loan. Nununnabi invested Tk 1.25 crore in the business.

"After the business started running, Lutfar once asked him to withdraw his share and threatened him citing the names of Minu and BNP Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman."

"Later on October 19 of 2004, Lutfar called him to his Upashahar home in the city and his aides at gunpoint forced Nurunnabi to withdraw his share through signing some business papers."

Lutfar in several phases later returned only Tk 43 lakh, while nearly Tk 1 crore dues still remained unpaid, goes the briefs of the case.

In another case, Nurunnabi alleged that Lutfar took Tk 30 lakh toll for releasing Tk 6,09 crore loan for establishing Nigar Cold Storage in Durgapur upazila in 2002.

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