Tax evasion and militant financing

Published:  02:02 AM, 17 July 2017

Sonali Paper boss faces widespread allegations

Allegations of tax evasion, swindling investors and financing militants have intensified against Mohammad Yunus, Chairman of Sonali Paper and Board Mills Ltd. Company in OTC market.  Mohammad Yunus, also proprietor of Yunus Group and business partner of executed war criminal Mir Quashem Ali, has already amassed huge illegal money and wealth at home and abroad in the last two decades by laundering money and evading taxes through managing to gratify some unscrupulous officials of the administration concerned.

Mean-while, a written complaint filed by one Abu Sayeed Khan of Bikrampur in Munshiganj has been submitted to the regulator of the capital market, Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), Stock Exchange (SE), the Governor of Bangladesh Bank, the Prime Minister, Chairman of ACC and NBR against him and seeking proper investigation and exemplary punishment.

The complainant has mentioned, "Regular transaction of the company in the paper sector is not being done due to the apathy of the authorities concerned. Consequently, general investors cannot continue transaction in a normal process. The company has been kept on in the OTC market only to evade taxes and violate good governance.

A review of the OTC market reveals that the company announced 10 per cent bonus dividends for investors in the last two years. According to the latest half yearly report, the profit of the company against each share stands at Tk 0.93. But it was Tk 0.98 in the same period of the previous year. That means the EPS of the company has  gone through a decline in the latest half yearly.

In the words of the complainant, Yunus has become the owner of huge illegal assets by over-invoicing and under-invoicing during the process of goods import and export. Besides, he has been involved in looking after the businesses of war criminal Mir Quashem. That responsibility has continued after Quashem's execution.

Mohammad Yunus is a patron of the Jama'at and fundamentalist politics. He allegedly uses a big portion of his illegal money to finance militancy. He and his wife have also taken upon themselves the role of directors of The Daily Naya Diganta and Diganta TV so that none can bring their illicit deals into question. He is now also carrying out his responsibilities as director of the non-government TV channel NTV.

Earlier in 2013-14, Yunus was involved with financing the BNP through NTV Chairman Mosaddek Ali Falu during the course of political violence. He was also responsible for financing the Jama'at in his capacity as a close associate of Mir Quashem.  As research by Ganajagaran Mancha has shown, the directors of Diganta TV were involved in financing terror and militant activities.

Mohammad Yunus was the biggest beneficiary, as a businessman, in the period of the BNP-Jama'at Jote government. At the time, he came by a huge amount of illegal money through indulging in various kinds of unlawful trades. Of the money, a large portion was laundered abroad.

With the laundered money, he has already bought two luxurious homes in Dockland and Maryland in the UK. Alongside, he has established a mountain of money in Malaysia, Dubai and Singapore. He has set up a 'Second Home' in Malaysia with the money he has laundered abroad. He has different accounts in Dubai and Singapore for money laundering.

Yunus used to visit Malaysia regularly to meet Mir Quashem's son, while he was living there.  He is now owner of one and a half dozen industries, including Universal Paper Mills, Yunus Filament Industries, Sonali Paper Mills, Yunus Offset Paper Mills, Yunus Plastic Industries and Yunus Spining Mills. He has also grabbed large swaths of government land through Sonali Paper Mills. He has been evading tariff duties during the import of raw materials for his enterprises and laundering money abroad for long by over-invoicing (showing additional rates) during goods importation. Similarly, he has been evading payments of government revenue through under-invoicing.

Yunus' business interests have been helped through his good relations with government officials, even though he has been a trusted follower of the BNP-Jama'at jote. He has grabbed a good number of dredging works after giving shares of Sonali Dredging Company to an official of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC). He also introduces himself as a relative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and business partner of Sheikh Kabir in a bid to draw the attention of the head of government. He often visits the Prime Minister's Office on the plea of business related work.

He also introduces himself as being a close relative of a city Mayor.  When this correspondent tried to contact Mohammad Yunus over cell phone for his response to the allegations against him, he did not respond.  A reliable source at the Prime Minister's Office said the written allegation against Yunus had been received and investigation was going on into the issue.

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