Bangladesh MP Faces Scrutiny Following OCCRP Investigation

Published: 31 January 2023

Abdus Sobhan GolapMohammed Abdus Sobhan Miah on a 2021 campaign poster, with Prime Minister Hasina in the background. (Photo: Mohammed Abdus Sobhan Miah/Facebook, License)

By Zulkarnain Saer Khan

A prominent Bangladeshi politician has come under scrutiny by the nation’s Anti-Corruption Commission following an Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project Investigation of his unreported offshore real estate holdings.

Commission Secretary Mahbub Hossain said Friday that his agency is reviewing OCCRP’s investigation of Member of Parliament Mohammed Abdus Sobhan Miah Golap to determine proper jurisdiction for a full investigation.

OCCRP on January 13 reported that Miah, who is also known as Golap, has amassed approximately US$4 million in real estate holdings in New York City, much of it acquired while he was paid $1,000 per month as an assistant to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In a related move, Supreme Court Barrister Saydul Haque Sumon, a former International Crimes Tribunal prosecutor, has filed a corruption commission complaint against Miah based on his eligibility to hold elected office.

OCCRP also reported that Miah was a dual U.S.-Bangladesh citizen at the time of his election to Parliament, which is not allowed under Bangladeshi law.

If Miah is found to have concealed assets, committed financial crimes or violated constitutional prohibitions regarding citizenship he could be removed from office, Bangladesh Election Commissioner Md Alamgir Hossain told local reporters following the OCCRP report.

Miah has dismissed the OCCRP report as propaganda meant to tarnish his political image.

The OCCRP investigation has attracted widespread attention in a country that is considered among the world's most corrupt. It was widely reported in the Bangladeshi press, including the leading newspapers, Prothom Alo and The Daily Star.

Mahbubul Alam Hanif, a joint general secretary of Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League, declined comment on the matter, saying it is “related to personal issues.”

But a senior member of the party’s presidium, speaking anonymously, told The Daily Star that “We feel embarrassed while going through such news.”

Meanwhile, Iftekhar Zaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, told The Daily Star that the OCCRP report should be taken into consideration with high priority by the government.

The U.S. Treasury Department has taken notice of the OCCRP investigation but  Morgan Finkelstein, a spokeswoman on Terrorism and Financial Intelligence issues, said the agency cannot comment on “any potential or possible investigations.”