Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is moving to prosecute 23 former and current Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) officials on corruption charges relating to the lease of two B777-200ERs from EgyptAir (MS, Cairo International) last decade.

ACC Secretary Mahbub Hossain held a media conference in Dhaka on February 6, 2023, and said the case had been filed with the ACC's integrated district office in Dhaka the previous day. The ACC has the power to investigate public service misconduct and file criminal charges. The 23 officials face prosecution under s.109, s.409, and s.420 of the Penal Code and s.5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The maximum penalty for at least one of the offences (s. 409 of the Penal Code, dealing with breaches of trust by officials) is life imprisonment or a maximum of ten years imprisonment plus a fine. The named individuals include:

  • Former director of flight operations Captain Ishrat Ahmed;
  • Former deputy chief engineer Shafiqul Alam Siddique;
  • Former engineer Shahid Uddin Mohammad Hanif;
  • Former chief engineer Debesh Chowdhury;
  • Former chief purchasing officer Kazi Mosaddek Ali;
  • Former manager Abdul Qadir;
  • Former chief engineer Mohammad Shahjahan;
  • Former engineer officer Zahid Hossain;
  • Former purchasing officer Mohammad Sajjad ul Haque.
  • Current general manager (printing and publication) Abdur Rahman Farooqui;
  • Current airworthiness consultant (CAAB) Golam Sarwar;
  • Current engineer officer Sadekul Islam Bhuya;
  • Current chief engineer (ARM) Kaiser Zaman;
  • Current deputy general manager Kamal Uddin Ahmed;
  • Current principal systems engineer Sharif Ruhul Quddus;
  • Current captain Nazrul Islam Shamim;
  • Current deputy general manager Zia Ahmed;
  • Current flight passer Shahidullah Kaiser Duke;
  • Current deputy general manager (corporate planning) Azad Rahman;
  • Current assistant manager (planning) Haque Basunia;
  • Current manager (ACP) Ataur Rahman;
  • Current flight purchaser Shahnaz Begum Jharna; and
  • Current chief engineer Gazi Mahmud Iqbal.

The matter dates back to 2013, when the Biman Bangladesh Airlines board issued a tender request to lease aircraft per their ten-year (2013 - 2023) business plan. The tender opened at the end of 2013 and four bidders, including Jesco Aviation, euroAtlantic Airways (YU, Lisbon), Standard Chartered Bank, and EgyptAir sent in bids.

An analysis of the offers indicated that the Standard Chartered bid was the best. Their asking price was the second lowest (beaten only by EgyptAir), but they were also a very highly regarded aircraft lessor and had suitable aircraft available which had recently ceased flying for Singapore Airlines (SQ, Singapore Changi).

While less expensive, the two offered EgyptAir aircraft, SU-GEO (msn 32629) and SU-GEP (msn 32630), had remained parked for the previous seven months and came with old Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, with spares at the time difficult to procure. The Singapore Airlines aircraft came equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. Nonetheless, the Biman board elected to lease the EgyptAir aircraft for a five-year period. Both aircraft were with Biman Bangladesh Airlines between March 2014 and January 2018. In that time, the two planes generated revenues of approximately BDT22 billion (USD206.4 million) against operational costs of BDT33 billion (USD309.4 million).

In February 2015, one of the PW4000 engines failed, requiring Biman Bangladesh to lease another engine from EgyptAir to keep that B777-200(ER) operational. In 2H2016, a second engine failed, requiring another engine lease from EgyptAir. That second leased engine also eventually failed. This time, rather than sourcing another engine from EgyptAir, the engine was sent to an MRO facility in the US with no fixed repair completion date.

This sequence of events cost state-owned Biman Bangladesh BDT11.61 billion taka (USD108.9 million dollars) in additional leases and repairs sparked a series of investigations into "irregularities" concerning the original lease agreement. However, Bangladesh's Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism did not follow up on the original investigation's findings, causing the ministry's parliamentary standing committee to refer the matter to the ACC last year. Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, who took up the CEO's role at Biman Bangladesh in early 2021, ordered cooperation with the ACC investigation. This week, he told Dhaka-based media that he would wait for more information from the anti-corruption agency before taking what he termed, "the next steps."