The owner of two hospitals in Bangladesh that issued thousands of fake coronavirus test results has been arrested as he attempted to flee the country, officials have said.
Mohammed Shahed, a member of the country’s governing party who regularly appeared on TV talk shows, was wearing a burka when he was arrested on Wednesday by the police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion after a nine-day manhunt.
Shahed, who is chairman of the Regent Group and owner of two Regent hospitals in the capital Dhaka, was caught near the Indian border with a pistol.
Abdul Baten, a commissioner of the detective branch in Dhaka, said Shahed admitted after his arrest that his hospitals did not have proper equipment to conduct coronavirus tests.
A court has allowed investigators to keep Shahed in custody for 10 days for questioning on Thursday.
Officials said the hospitals had issued more than 10,000 coronavirus test results and about 60% were fake even though patients were charged for them.
The hospitals allegedly arranged for the remaining tests to be conducted by another hospital.
The two hospitals had not renewed their medical licences for years.
However, the country’s ministry of health still signed a deal with Shahed to dedicate the hospitals to coronavirus testing and treatment as the number of cases rose in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh was nearing 200,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, including 2,496 deaths.
Public health experts say the actual number is much higher because only about 70 testing facilities are available in the country of 160 million people.
Shahed belongs to the governing Awami League party headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and is a member of its foreign affairs subcommittee.
He has more than 50 illegal cases pending against him across the country on various charges including forgery and cheating.