Vol. 5 Num 986 Fri. March 09, 2007  
Front Page

Taskforces handed enormous power
Empowered to detain without warrant, freeze or confiscate property of the accused, recover money and wealth illegally transferred abroad

The government plans to hand the still-unofficial taskforces enormous authority to crack down on corrupt people and culprits.

Under the supervision of a National Co-ordination Committee headed by Communication Adviser Major General (retd) MA Matin, the taskforces will be authorised to conduct search or confiscate properties of people linked with any types of crime.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Nine Infantry Division Major General Masud Uddin Chowdhury will act as chief coordinator of the national committee, which will evaluate list of culprits put forward by different auxiliary agencies.

The central committee of the coordination body, which drafts in all seven GOCs as members, will then recommend taking legal actions against listed culprits.

Once in action officially, these ultra-crime bust forces-- one central, seven regional/city and 64 district-based-- will have the right to detain any person without warrant for interrogation or collecting information involving any case.

Each of the taskforces will thrive on the authority to getting back illegally transferred money to foreign banks and amassed wealth abroad through related institutions.

The sweeping powers of the taskforces will compel any government and non-government organisations to provide information about persons linked with different crimes.

When asked, MA Matin admitted that he will head the mighty committee, which is to be floated soon. "The task of these taskforces will be to assist the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) as the organisation runs short of manpower."

But, as per the plan the ACC will in fact become one of a few helping components of the taskforces, sources argued.

They hinted that the taskforces are already out in action and Wednesday's high profile raids that also arrested Tarique Rahman, the senior joint secretary general of the BNP and eldest son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, were supervised by the new-born units.

"From now on, the taskforce will be at the helm of all major hunts for corruption and criminal suspects," said a source.

The new list of 50 top corruption suspects was drawn up by the taskforces, and inquiry will be done by the ACC with the taskforces playing pivotal role in the outcome.

Before the Wednesday crackdown started, the ACC only prepared a proposal for inquiry into corruption allegation against former health minister of BNP Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, sources pointed out.

"We are not aware of this list. We also did not get any list from the government," ACC acting chairman Habibur Rahman told the press yesterday.

However, the taskforces will be bound to complete investigation within seven days after filing of a case linking people bracketed by the central body of the National Co-ordination Committee.

One of the eight responsibilities of these units outlined in the draft notification of the Cabinet Division recently is to list and freezing or attaching of all movable and immovable properties of accused persons.

In case of inquiry, investigation and litigation, the taskforces will not only take help from different government organs but also communicate and coordinate with the ACC, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Auditor and Comptroller General, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), police, Special Branch (SB), Criminal Investigation Department, Rab, National Security Intelligence (NSI), Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Bangladesh Bank and any other organisations or sources.

The taskforces will not rest on filing of cases but follow those up till the disposal by keeping constant contacts and communications with relevant authorities.

Each of the taskforce will include five members an officer from armed forces (major or equivalent rank), Rab officer, police officer, ACC officer (if the commission feels the service required) and NBR officer.

Depending on the need of a taskforce, it will have some assisting representatives from NSI, DGFI and ministry, and a magistrate, prosecutor and auditor/chartered accountant/ experts.

The government may increase the number of taskforces, if required.

The National Co-ordination Committee will continue to update list of culprits and cooridinate recruitment for investigation and inquiry. The other members of the committee are secretary to chief adviser, secretary to ACC, NBR chairman/DG Central Intelligence Cell, IGP/ additional IG of SB, additional secretary (legislative) of law ministry, DG/ additional DG Rab, deputy DG BDR, deputy governor or executive director of Bangladesh Bank, director NSI (internal), a DGFI director, director military operations of army, joint secretary (political) of home ministry, and additional/ deputy attorney general.

Meanwhile, the committees for seven regions -- Dhaka-Savar, Ghatail, Chittagong, Comilla, Bogra, Rangpur and Jessore -- are to be dominated by members of armed forces. A cell will also be in operation under the coordination committee to receive and assess allegations. This cell includes a brigadier general from the DGFI, wing commander, major, lieutenant commander, and super of police.