Seventeen of 23 current and former officials involved in an aircraft leasing scandal at Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) appeared before the High Court Division of Bangladesh's Supreme Court on February 8, 2023, to be bailed and ordered to report to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for questioning within 21 days.

As recently reported by ch-aviation, the ACC is initiating criminal cases against 23 Biman Bangladesh officials over the lease of two B777-200ERs from EgyptAir (MS, Cairo International) last decade. The flawed deal saw the state-owned carrier incur losses of BDT11 billion taka (USD105.2 million dollars).

The ACC's filing alleges that "the defendants premeditatedly colluded and misused their power to defraud to benefit themselves first and then leased two planes from EgyptAir for the dishonest purpose of benefiting others. Later, till re-delivery, Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited has committed an offence punishable under s.109/409/420 of the Penal Act and s.5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, by embezzling money." It remains unclear why only 17 of the 23 officials, all named by the media, appeared before Justices Mustafa Zaman Islam and Aminul Islam in Dhaka this week. The ACC did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.

Much of the lease-related losses were incurred by issues with the engines on the leased aircraft. The two Boeings arrived in Dhaka in 2014 with old Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines with a limited airworthiness period remaining. Owing to subsequent failures, state-owned Biman incurred significant costs in leasing replacement engines and sending one engine to the United States for repairs.

Previous attempts to investigate the lease agreement irregularities came to nought owing to a lack of interest at the ministerial level. However, last year, a Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism parliamentary committee looked at the matter and decided there had been "widespread financial irregularities and corruption" in the leasing process and referred the matter to the ACC. Biman Bangladesh's current CEO, Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, has no connection with the lease deal and is cooperating with the investigation. So far, the ACC has requested 13 types of information from him, including leasing inspection reports, leasing team member information, aircraft leasing procedures, and economic authority information.