The anti-graft watchdog has collected documents that show 50% less revenue per month than the net income of the airline
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has questioned five top officials of Biman Bangladesh Airlines regarding their connection to corruption and irregularities of the airline's revenue collections process.
The commission questioned them in the last week of September, said an ACC official to Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.
The national anti-graft commission took the decision to launch an inquiry against the Biman officials after being requested by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and concerned Biman authorities.
Following the inquiry regarding the Biman officials, the commission has collected documents which showed 50% less revenue per month than the net income of the airline, the official added.
Sajjadul Hassan, chairman of the board of directors of Biman, said the matter has been discussed at a board meeting, but he refused to say anything more.
Two members of the board of directors of Biman, seeking anonymity, said that there needed to be an accurate inquiry into the Biman revenue scam.
The officials have already provided documents and revenue reports to ACC. Besides, they have already submitted a report to the Aviation Ministry to take legal actions against its corrupted employees, they said.
The commission formed a committee, led by its Deputy Director Md Salahuddin, which has already collected several documents related to the allegations.
The team also found evidence after interrogating five senior Biman officials.
The disparities between documents and reality
Earn (Tk, crore)
Ground Power Unit(GPU)
Aircraft Push Tow Tractor
Water service trucks
Main Deck Cargo Loaders
Installation of Conveyor Belt
Source: Biman documents
ACC Secretary Muhammad Dilwar Bakht said, not only the revenue scam, the investigation is underway into a number of issues of the airline. Action will be taken against the culprits following the final legal process.
According to the ACC sources, the Biman authorities found initial evidence of the allegations against a syndicate in 2014 investigation reports. However, the authorities did not take any step. The report also recommended investigating irregularities by the ACC accurately.
In response, ACC decided to investigate the allegations of irregularities in the monthly, half-yearly, and yearly revenue reports of the airline.
The commission has found that some dishonest Biman officials embezzled around Tk30 crore per month from Biman’s various accommodations, after reviewing documents and interrogating the Biman officials.
According to ACC documents, there were disparities regarding a total of 15 flights of Biman out of an average120 flights a day at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in 2016.
In addition, information about around 30 cargo flights also fluctuates in the airport.
The documents said, by providing one-hour electricity service to a foreign aircraft, Biman earns Tk15 crore per month from the rental of the aircraft Ground Power Unit (GPU), but it was shown to be Tk8 crore in the monthly report.
Despite the monthly income from the air-conditioning unit being Tk25 crore, it is shown as Tk10 crore, read the report.
Similarly, the income of Tk5 crore from aircraft push tow tractors is shown as Tk2.5 crore, Tk3 crore instead of Tk5 crore from water service trucks, Tk3 crore instead of Tk4 crore from main deck cargo loaders, and Tk6.5 crore per month from trolley trucks is shown as TK4 crore, Tk50 lakh instead of Tk80 lakh for conveyor belt and Tk2.5 crores instead of Tk3.5 crore from the forklift.
According to other documents, the commission has also found allegations of buying substandard equipment. Biman had bought three smart cards from abroad worth $50,5000 in 2015. However, it was damaged after a year.
In the same year, Biman also bought two air-conditioned (AC) vans worth Tk95 lakh which broke down in a few months. After that, equipment worth Tk20 lakh was brought to fix it but that also did not work.
In addition, the four CPL machines bought for Tk9 crore were damaged and were not repaired till now.
Biman loses thousands of crores from leasing aircraft
The ACC has also found another sector of corruption - aircraft leases. The Biman syndicate led by the five top officials are taking bribes and commissions to lease aircraft from foreign aircraft agencies.
Biman has incurred losses of TK1,200 crore to lease a Cairo base aircraft in 2014-2018. Biman earned revenue of Tk2,329 crore but it cost Tk3,529 crore in the last two years.
Syndicate grips Biman
According to the commission documents, every year on the pretext of Hajj, Biman leases aircraft at the last moment in a hurry.
A total of 25 to 30 employees led by the five top Biman officials have made a strong syndicate to internally maintain everything of the airline.
Among them are an influential GM (general manager), administrative employee, security personnel, and 15 members of the Biman Flight Catering Center (BFCC), who reportedly control and manipulate ticket prices and selling through different travel agencies and enjoy the illegal profits.
ACC found that they are responsible for making fake DO (Demi Official) government letters and vouchers, tender manipulations, and recruitment, among others.