A probe body has found out the connivance of bank and tax officials in alleged forgery of pay-orders submitted by taxpayers to the national exchequer. Lax monitoring and reluctance of the authorities concerned are largely blamed for the daring defalcation.
The investigation committee has detected that neither the bank officials nor the taxmen had followed their respective procedures of acceptance and depository of the pay-orders, causing embezzlement of taxpayers’ money.
The findings came in a recent investigation report of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on pay-order forgeries.
A three-member committee of income-tax officials launched the investigation last year following allegation of missing some pay-orders and encashment of those under other names instead of the public exchequer.
The committee submitted its probe report recently to the NBR and Bangladesh Bank (BB) with its recommendations to check such theft.
A senior tax official said the Central Intelligence Cell (CIC) raised the issue, expressing grave concern over complaints of a taxpayer on the disappearance of his pay-orders.
“This is the first time the NBR found such complaints. It is alarming as taxpayers may lose their confidence if the government cannot ensure safety of their hard-earned money,” said the official. The investigation report has already been handed over to the central bank with recommendations for issuing instructions to commercial banks about such heist, he said.
The probe body has recommended that the BB issue directives asking commercial banks not to allow depositing any of the pay-orders, cheques, instruments that have been issued in favour of income-tax department for income-tax payments.
“It is criminal offence to embezzle the taxpayers’ money that they paid in favour of the public exchequer as tax,” the investigation report reads.
The committee suggested the tax zone 6, tax circle 115 and 130 to take departmental action and legal action against the offence under their domains.
The investigation report also suggested the tax zone to file criminal cases against four officials of Dutch-Bangla Bank (DBBL) for pay-order forgery.
It also suggested the tax authority to realize the siphoned money from DBBL and deposit it with the public exchequer.
The NBR has been suggested to strengthen monitoring in the field-level income- tax offices to stop such heinous practices.
It was found out that the bank concerned had not followed the rules of the BB on opening bank accounts into which the pay-orders were deposited.
The committee found all of the pay-orders having been deposited with the tax returns for 2013-14 during the tax fair on September 2013. When a taxpayer concerned went to tax office for acknowledgment, he found his name not entered into the register.
He went to the pay-order issuer, Sonali Bank, and found his pay-order already encashed in the Dutch-Bangla Bank.
The tax official said many of such incidents may also happen in other tax offices, too, if the authority does not take any initiative to check the irregularities. The probe body has indentified three corrupt official of DBBL and found one of them having used the seal ‘payees’ A/C credited’ to bamboozle the clearing bank.
The committee report also accused assistant manager of DBBL Nurul Alam of opening bank account, depositing pay-orders and withdrawing the money.
The report also found inefficiencies of two tax officials—Begum Rawshon Ara of tax circle 115 and Begum Selina Akhtar of tax circle 130-that induced the embezzlement.
“There is severe mismanagement in the tax office concerned. It sometimes carried out its tasks with retired staffers and other persons,” the report says. Mismanagement in maintenance of documents and registers in tax offices was also detected in the probe.
To carry out the investigation, the probe body faced difficulties to find out who was responsible to maintain the pay-orders in the tax office and how that tax-file changed hands.
However, the committee report confirmed that both bank officials and tax officials were involved in the embezzlement. It suggested stern action against the suspects.