Specifics of allegations are still obscure, says Toufique Imrose Khalidi

Toufique Imrose Khalidi, editor-in-chief of bdnews24.com, has said the allegations against him of possessing wealth inconsistent with his disclosed income are still obscure and refused to speak to the media elaborately on a matter under investigation.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 26 Nov 2019, 02:24 PM
Updated : 26 Nov 2019, 06:06 PM

“The substance of the allegations is still not clear. They [the Anti-Corruption Commission] are looking into it to figure it out,” Khalidi told reporters at the ACC headquarters in Dhaka on Tuesday.

The ACC might have received a letter from an undisclosed source, he said after a round of questioning by the agency’s investigation officer. 

According to Khalidi, some people raised questions about an investment in bdnews24.com by a reputed company, which prompted the ACC investigation.

In a media briefing later in the day, ACC Secretary Dilwar Bakht did not elaborate on the specifics of the allegations against Khalidi.

“I’ve said the allegations are clear. These involve the acquisition of wealth beyond a known source through irregularities and corruption,” he claimed.

The ACC only takes up a matter for investigation when the allegations are clear, Bakht added.

Asked for a specific amount of the illegal wealth allegedly acquired by Khalidi and how much of it he had transferred to his account, Bakht said: “This matter is currently under investigation. We’ll find out the details at the end of it.”

Khalidi sat through nearly five hours of questioning by the investigator at the ACC headquarters.

“I don’t have a lot to say today. It would be improper to comment on a matter under investigation,” he told the waiting reporters on his way out. 

Asked to comment on the duration of the interview, Khalidi said: “They have a format under which they ask many questions and record all the answers which need to be signed at the end. So I left after signing the document.”

Khalidi received a letter from the ACC on Nov 5 asking him to appear in the commission’s headquarters on Nov 11.

In the letter, the ACC said Khalidi’s statement was required in connection with the allegations of “transferring a huge amount of money” by “hiding location” by himself and bdnews24.com, and “earning wealth inconsistent with his known income through illegal activities”.

 

Despite seeking a time extension, Khalidi nonetheless went to the ACC offices on Nov 11 as he did not receive any official reply from the authorities. The ACC later fixed Nov 26 for the meeting and Khalidi accordingly went to the commission’s offices on Tuesday.

On Oct 29, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a media briefing that she had knowledge of a newspaper editor demanding a sum of money from the chairman of a bank.

The editor threatened the bank chairman to “ruin his life by publishing reports”, the prime minister said.

Asked whether the prime minister’s remarks were pointed at him, Khalidi said: “I gave my answer to this the other day. You need to ask the prime minister whether she was referring to me. I know why this question is being raised.”

“An adviser to the prime minister had called me for unrelated reasons. He told me that the chairman of a bank made allegations against someone. That was against someone else.” 

Khalidi said that he does not usually speak to any bank executive as that responsibility lies with bdnews24.com’s ‘sales team’. 

Then a reporter followed up on the issue and asked Khalidi if he was confident that the editor the prime minister referred to was a different person.

Khalidi laughed it off: “This shouldn’t at all be a matter of discussion. I believe this question is absolutely irrelevant … absolutely irrelevant.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher