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The Rapid Action Battalion has arrested Regent Hospital Chairman Mohammed Shahed on the Satkhira frontier for his roles in a COVID-19 test scam that roiled Bangladesh’s healthcare sector.

Shahed, also known as Shahed Karim, was arrested near the Labangabati river in Debhata Upazila around 5.30 am Wednesday, about a week after the COVID-19 scam involving his hospital came to light.

"A loaded pistol was recovered from him. We could have missed him if we were a bit late. He was about to escape into India,” said Lt Col Ashik Billah, legal and media affairs director of the elite force.

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Shahed was being hounded by law-enforcement agencies after it emerged that his hospitals swindled thousands of unsuspecting patients out of millions of takas on the pretext of coronavirus treatment.

The RAB sealed off the headquarters and two branches of Regent Hospital in Dhaka. It also initiated a case against 17 people, including Shahed, on charges of issuing fake COVID-19 test reports and other irregularities.

The case alleges that the hospital authorities duped nearly 6,000 patients out of Tk 20.1 million by issuing fake coronavirus tests reports even though it was supposed to provide free treatment for COVID-19. They later billed Tk 19.6 million to the health directorate.

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Shahed has allegedly embezzled billions by defrauding ordinary people through his microcredit and MLM business, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The commission decided to open a probe after it received complaints that Shahed amassed a fortune through multi-layered fraudulence, embezzlement of government funds, evading taxes as well as borrowing from banks using fake identities.