Controversial Bangladeshi tycoon Moosa bin Shamsher is facing charges of hiding information on his wealth and earning money beyond his known sources of income after he informed an anti-corruption watchdog that he has $12 billion in a Swiss bank.
On Thursday, a case was filed in Dhaka against Shamsher, who is known to have a vast and shady network in many countries, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as an alleged broker in defence purchases.
Mir Jainul Abedin Shibly, a director of the Anti-Corruption Commission, filed the case accusing Shamsher of providing false information about his wealth and failing to clarify how he accumulated so much wealth.
If convicted, Shamser could face up to three years in jail and a fine for one charge, and three to 10 years in jail and confiscation of his wealth for the other.
He did not react to the charges.
Shamsher has been questioned by the commission several times in recent months after he allegedly failed to explain his position to investigators.
In a “wealth statement” submitted to the commission on June 7, 2015, Shamser said he had $12 billion in a Swiss bank. He said he had deposited ornaments worth about $90 million in the bank’s vault. He also said he owned about 1,200 bighas of land near Dhaka.
Shamsher allegedly failed to explain how he had amassed this wealth.
The probe against Shamsher began in 2014 after Business Asia magazine ran a story that provided details of his wealth. Officials said Shamsher claimed he earned the money legally through business over the past four decades.
The businessman explained to officials that the $12 billion now frozen in the Swiss bank had come from deals for the purchase of arms by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan. His company DATCO is involved in exporting farm and industry workers from Bangladesh to the Middle East. But officials were not satisfied with his clarifications.
Shamsher, who usually uses the term “Prince” before his name, was once the subject of a cover story in The Sunday Telegraph of London. He has been in the limelight for his lavish lifestyle.
He became an issue during the 1997 general election in Britain as he reportedly offered the Labour Party and Tony Blair £5 million as a campaign donation. The party rejected the offer.