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Tk 152cr embezzlement: Travel ban on ex-VAT commissioner Waheeda
  Date : 25-07-2024

Online Report : A Dhaka court on Thursday imposed a travel ban on Waheeda Rahman Choudhury, former commissioner of the Large Taxpayer Unit of Value Added Tax, of National Board of Revenue (NBR) in connection with a case filed over providing illegal benefits to four mobile phone operators, causing losses of Tk 152 crore to the government.

Dhaka Metropolitan senior special judge Mohammad Ash Shams Jaglul Hossain passed the order, allowing a plea from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

An order sheet of the travel ban signed by ACC`s assistant director Shah Alam Sheikh was sent to the Special Police Super (Immigration) of Special Branch of police, on Thursday (June 13).

In its plea to the court, ACC`s assistant director Shah Alam Sheikh mentioned that they had information that the accused Waheeda Rahman Choudhury was secretly trying to leave the country, adding that if she left Bangladesh, the investigation into the case would be hampered. So, the travel of the accused abroad must be stopped for fair investigation into the case.

Earlier, ACC assistant director Shah Alam Sheikh filed the case against Waheeda Rahman Choudhury, who was now enjoying post-retirement leave, with its Integrated District Office in Dhaka-1.

According to the case statement, Waheeda took illegal executive decisions involving 16 documents regarding VAT collection and waived Tk 152.89 crore of unpaid interest with dishonest intention between March 2020 and November 2022.

Of the amount, Grameen Phone Limited was awarded a waiver of Tk 58.64 crore in its unpaid interest, Banglalink Digital Communication Limited was awarded a waiver of Tk 57. 88 crore, Robi Axiata Limited was awarded a waiver of Tk 14.94 crore and Airtel Bangladesh Limited was awarded a waiver of Tk 20.53 crore.

The case also stated that earlier the four mobile operators at a meeting of alternative dispute resolution agreed about an NBR claim of the VAT amount applicable to their rents of places and establishments. Accordingly, they cleared the payment of Tk 189.74 crore in VAT.

But, as they delayed in making the payment, the four companies incurred Tk 152.89 crore in interest.

Commissioner Waheeda Rahman Choudhury asked officials to calculate the interest quickly, but later on she changed her decision through `abuse of power and criminal breach of trust` and provided the waiver to those companies, the case statement mentioned.

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