Sheba Ideas and Living Limited, an Uttara-based company operated with a multilevel marketing model, has laundered Tk16 crore, according to the Criminal Investigation Department of police.
The company also allegedly misappropriated around Tk57 crore, which it had collected from more than 2,000 clients in the name of providing flats within two years or double returns after a year. And that despite the fact that it had no approval from the authorities concerned for such projects.
The Ponzi-scheme based company was initially sued in February this year by several victims with Uttara Model Police Station. Following the case, the CID launched a primary investigation and found Tk16 crore to have been embezzled.
Later, the CID filed another case of money laundering against the four top officials of the firm – Chairman Ashiq Ghosh, Managing Director Kazi Md Nurul Islam, Deputy Managing Director Ayesha Akhter and Finance Director Shahnewaz Shamim – who had also been accused in the first lawsuit.
"We have filed a case of money laundering against the four as we found relevant evidence," Azad Rahman, CID's additional police superintendent, told The Business Standard.
Now the police are conducting further investigation, he added.
In the course of interrogation conducted by the CID, the four accused admitted that they received Tk39.55 crore from the clients. With the amount, they bought 42 katha of land worth Tk1.50 crore and repaid Tk22 crore to the clients in return.
However, they could not account for Tk16 crore, the CID official said.
The company, led by a lower-grade staffer of the government organization, Institute of Public Health Nurul Islam, offered more than 100% profit annually and 8.45% monthly, the CID said.
Nurul Islam's involvement in business was a violation of the law as he was a government employee, it said, adding that he was also involved in several other MLM companies, including Unipay2u.
The Financial Crime Unit of the CID checked the bank accounts of the accused and found Tk11.79 lakh only. A total of Tk11.76 crore was deposited into the account, and Tk10.95 crore had been withdrawn. The rest of the amount was transacted from one hand to another.
Meanwhile, the victims have said they are now in a state of tension over their invested money. Abdullah Al Mamun, one of the victims, worked for a private firm in the capital.
Mamun told this correspondent that he came to know about the company from one of his colleagues and became interested in investment. Later, put in Tk9 lakh of his own and from relatives in phases.
"In the initial phases, I received Tk2.55 lakh in profit. But now I am worried about my capital," Mamun said.
Another victim Asaduzzaman invested Tk10 lakh, having been influenced by people close to him. "I received Tk4 lakh and lost Tk6 lakh of my capital," he said.
It may be recalled that in recent years, Bangladesh has identified a huge number of Ponzi schemes, with thousands of people falling prey to fraud. The fraudulence came in different names – from tree plantation to e-commerce.