'GK Shamim spent Tk 1.1b to pull strings at PWD'

Dipu Sarwar
Published : 22:40, Dec 08, 2019 | Updated : 23:25, Dec 08, 2019

RAB raided GK Shamim`s construction firm GK Builder`s offices after picking him up from his home at the Niketon Residential area in the capital`s Gulshan on Sept 20. FILE PHOTO/Nashirul IslamControversial contractor SM Golam Kibria Shamim alias GK Shamim allegedly spearheaded a bid to maintain influence at the government's Public Works Department (PWD), involving over Tk 1 billion in illicit transactions.
According to sources at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Shamim led a "syndicate" of contractors who paid the money to influence appointment and postings at the PWD, including that of the department's Chief Engineer Shahadat Hossain.
Shamim has made a fortune by “illegally” winning government contracts reportedly by identifying himself as Narayanganj Awami League vice president and Jubo League central committee’s cooperatives affairs secretary.
In an ongoing crackdown on illegal gambling operations, tender-manipulation and extortion, Shamim was arrested on Sept 20 along with his seven bodyguards on charges related to drugs and illegal arms.
The Rapid Action Battalion made the arrests after the recovery of about Tk 20 million in cash, Tk 1.75 billion worth of fixed-deposit receipt (FDR) savings, alcohol and firearms in a raid on his home and office in Dhaka.
A month later, on Oct 21, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) prosecuted him on charges of accumulating illegal wealth. The graft watchdog grilled him five days in custody and he is since in jail.
People familiar with the ACC investigations said that Shamim led a "syndicate" of contractors, which spend Tk 1.1 billion to "ensure postings of top-level engineers", including the now Chief Engineer Md Shahadat Hossain, at the PWD.
Shahadat HossainHossain, who had joined as the top PWD official in January this year, had arranged for Tk 20 million for his posting with Shamim bankrolling Tk 30 million while the other contractors contributed Tk 5 million each, according to them.
A highly-placed source at the ACC says that investigators are now working to uncover the money trail.
No official comment from the ACC was available on this specific issue. When reached for a comment ACC Deputy Director (public relations) Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said, "GK Shamim is being investigated. There's no significant update to brief about."
ACC sources confirms that the "syndicate of contractors", include 12 people. They are, Khandaker Golam Kabir of Nurani Constructions, Minarul Alam Chakladar of Padma-Payel Group, Azizur Rahman Bachchu of Hasan & Sons, Chanchal Babu of The Engineers and Architect Ltd, Rafiqul Islam of Kushali Nirmata Ltd, Rezwan Mostafiz, Md Jamal of Jamal & Co, Md Liton of Banga Builders, Aminul Islam of Project Builders Ltd, Md Emdad of The Civil Engineers Ltd, Mir Akter of Mir Akter Constructions, and M/S Masud and Company.
None of the contractors or representatives from their firms were available for comments.
Shamim's firm GKB and Company Private Ltd currently has its hands on 53 construction projects of the public works ministry with a total allocation of around Tk 5.5 billion.
Of these projects, his firm is working alone in 13 projects. The remaining 40 projects are joint ventures, according to the public works ministry, which has approved 24 of these.
Eight projects were greenlit by the chief engineer of the Public Works Department and three by the additional chief engineer. The cabinet committee on public purchase approved the other 17 projects.
In November, the PWD served termination notices to GKB & Company Pvt Limited in a move to cancel the contracts signed with the company for implementing 15 large projects.
Construction works of these projects have not seen any progress following the arrest of GK Shamim in September.
Of the 15 projects, 10 were being implemented by GKB & Company individually while the remaining under joint ventures with other firms.