Malaysian anti-graft body investigates masterminds

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (SPRM) raided the Bestinet office in Kuala Lumpur and interrogated Malaysian syndicate mastermind Amin several times on Tuesday to know his involvement in selecting 25 Bangladeshi recruiting agencies for hiring workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia, a diplomatic source in Malaysia has said.

The SPRM officials also arrested a number of officials at the Bestinet office in Kuala Lumpur for their alleged involvement in syndication in recruiting workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia, it was learnt.

Later, SPRM officials went to the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on the same day. They asked questions about the role of Bangladesh High Commission in selecting the 25 agencies. Besides, the anti-graft officials also sought to know the basis or yardsticks of selecting the 25 agencies in question.

The anti-graft officials also enquired the Bangladesh High Commission official whether they have any official documents regarding the 25 recruiters.

Contacted, Imran Ahmad, minister of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment, rejected the 25-member syndicate outright, saying that Bangladesh had not sent any list of 25 members to Malaysia.

“We have sent a list of 1,520 recruiters to Malaysia. I do not know who prepared the list and how it was done,” Imran told newsmen on Tuesday.

Md Nazmus Sadat Salim, minister (labour) at the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, told The Business Post that SPRM officials had visited the High Commission.

“They wanted to know whether we had written any letter to the Malaysian human resources ministry providing the list of 25 agencies. We said we provided a list of over 1,500 agencies. We also said we are not involved in the selection of the 25 agencies.”

Amid the situation in Malaysia, some Bangladeshi agencies have already collected the passports of aspiring migrants. Some medical centres have also started medical tests of the migrants by violating the government directive. They are also overcharging migrants for the tests.

Datuk Amin interrogated

During the Bestinent office raid, SPRM officials interrogated Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Bin Abdul Nor in phases about his involvement in selecting the 25 agencies in Bangladesh.

They also asked him about his relation with Malaysian Human Resources Minister Saravanan Murugan. They wanted to know what criteria were used to select the 25 agencies.

He failed to explain his role in these matters and also failed to show any documents.
Sources said SPRM had kept Datuk Amin under surveillance and he might be arrested as well.

Why Swapan not interrogated

Datuk Amin and his Bangladeshi partner Ruhul Amin Swapan, owner of Catahrsis International, are involved in the whole process of sending workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia, including making the 25-member syndicate and arranging illegal medical check-ups, industry people said.

Catahrsis International is one of the members of the syndicate.

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) leaders have demanded that Swapan be interrogated as well.

“Swapan and Amin have done everything together. As Amin has been interrogated by SPRM, Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission should also interrogate Swapan,” a former BAIRA leader said.

Nobody could reveal 25 agency selection criteria

Bestinet, the Malaysian human resources ministry, the Bangladesh government, and the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia – none could clearly reveal how the 25 agencies had been selected.

The Malaysian human resources ministry visited Bangladesh on June 2 and said the 25 agencies had been selected through automation.

The Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia said it was not involved in selecting the agencies and had no information about how it was done.

Bangladesh’s Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad on June 16 told The Business Post he had not approved the 25 agencies and was not aware of the selection criteria.

Several Bangladeshi agencies told The Business Post recently that the Bestinet website contained the names of the 25 agencies but those were later removed.

Medical test

Some medical centres in Bangladesh are illegally performing health check-ups for migrants wishing to go to Malaysia, violating the government’s instructions in this regard.

Visiting Global Medicare Diagnostics Limited in the capital’s Banani on Tuesday, it was seen that thousands of aspiring migrants were waiting for medical check-ups. They were paying in cash at the cash counters.

Some were even waiting outside on the footpath due to crowds inside.

When Md Sukur Ali went to the counter, he was asked to pay Tk 7,000. He paid the money accordingly.

Around 1,000 people were waiting for the call to go inside for the check-up. They were holding slips that showed they were aspiring migrants to Malaysia.

Md Sabuj, who claimed himself as the in-charge of the medical centre, told The Business Post, “We are not doing any medical check-ups for Malaysia.”

When asked why all the people were holding slips that mentioned Malaysia, he said, “We are doing pre-medical check-ups.”

When asked whether there would be another round of check-ups later, he declined to comment.

During another visit to Gulshan Medicare in Gulshan, a similar situation was found. Those who were there said they would undergo check-ups to go to Malaysia.

Six people came together from Brahmanbaria Sadar upazila for check-ups. Sumon, one of them, said, “I do not know how much they will charge me for the check-up.”

“I do not even know how much I have to pay to go to Malaysia. A middleman named Nasir took my passport 15 days ago and said migration costs would be revealed later,” he said.

In July 2019, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment sought applications from medical centres willing to perform check-ups for aspiring migrants to Malaysia. Each was asked to pay a fee of Tk 5,000 with the application.

The applications are still being scrutinised, and approval has not been given yet.

Moreover, on June 29, Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) published a notice, asking migrants not to pay any money and give passports to any person or agency.

It also asked them to make every transaction through the bank and keep the receipts.

The expatriates’ welfare minister told journalists on Tuesday that no medical centre had been approved to perform check-ups for Malaysia.

He also said all agencies capable of running check-ups would be given approval. “It is not certain whether the medical centres taking money from aspiring migrants now will be given approval.”

Imran also added, “I do not know whether the Malaysian authorities have selected the medical centres.”

When asked about agencies charging migrants Tk 3.5 lakh, he said, “According to the Memorandum of Understanding, employers will bear the maximum cost of migration. Why should I let my workers pay such a large amount of money?”

Observers have said the medical centres who are running the illegal heath checkup business must be brought to books, while their medical establishments closed up for ignoring the instructions of the government, and doing hefty business criminally.

Check-ups being done before other procedures

For aspiring migrants, demand letters are issued by Malaysian employers and those need to be attested by the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

The high commission then sends the demand letters to the expatriates’ welfare ministry in Bangladesh. These documents need the signature of the secretary of the ministry. After that, a newspaper advertisement has to be published by the ministry.

But before all these steps, the names of the aspiring migrant need to be collected from the BMET database. The medical check-ups are performed after completing all these steps.

The expatriates’ welfare minister said, “Demand letters will come first and selection will be done then. After that, health check-ups will be performed by only the approved medical centres.”

Source : Business Post

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