Vol. 5 Num 1066 Fri. June 01, 2007  
Front Page

More Confession
Babar cut $10m Warid deal for Koko

Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar spilled more beans as he told investigators yesterday that he had negotiated a $10 million fast-track frequency allocation deal for Warid Telecom and the booty was shared by Arafat Rahman Koko and former BNP MP Ali Asgar Lobi.

Of the amount, $9 million was given to former prime minister Khaleda Zia's younger son Koko and $1 million to detained BNP leader Lobi who had close links with detained BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman and his Hawa Bhaban.

Babar also revealed during interrogation that Koko and former finance minister Saifur Rahman's son Tony took commission from a Chinese company in the name of giving it a contract for supplying telecommunications equipment. He, however, denied his involvement in the deal.

On the controversial purchase of 1,970 vehicles involving Tk 121 crore from the government coffer and a huge counterpart fund from a donor agency, he told the investigators that he did not go through the documents before signing the deal.

"It was my mistake. I even did not go through the file before signing it," Babar was quoted to have said during interrogation.

The former state minister claimed that he had no option but to approve the controversial vehicle purchase for various law enforcement departments "under pressure from the high-ups". Pacific Motors owned by former foreign minister M Morshed Khan was the prime beneficiary of the purchase proposal.

Babar, who is now on a four-day police remand, said BNP's Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman was the main backer of Pacific Motors.

The government decided to procure the 1,970 cars ahead of the Saarc summit in the capital in 2005.

The police headquarters floated a tender in which 16 importers participated. But at the last moment, the authorities changed the conditions of bidding through a circular in such a way that allowed only two importers to participate. That prompted the other bidders to lodge complaints with the government alleging corruption in the bidding process, but that did not work.

Sources said the former state minister also confessed that an official of the Bangladesh High Commission in Singapore used to look after his business there.

Sources said the former state minister gave the investigators information, which they later found to be false. Babar gave the false information to save himself, the sources added.

Babar also confessed to owning a lot of plots and flats in the names of his relatives.

Meanwhile, Tk 20 crore, which Babar took as bribe from Bashundhara Group, was deposited in the central bank's government exchequer on Wednesday in nine cheques and pay orders.

A Bashundhara Group director told the joint forces that Babar took the money in exchange for not implicating Bashundhara Group owner Ahmed Akbar Sobhan's son Shafiat Sobhan in the killing of another director of the conglomerate Humayun Kabir Sabbir.

The former state minister asked the Bashundhara men to deliver the money to Prime Bank Director Qazi Saleemul Huq who was supposed to return the money to Babar at a later time, sources said.

After receiving the bribe, Babar allegedly instructed the police not to proceed with the case and the Bashundhara director's murder still remains unsolved. He also allegedly let Sobhan's son Shafiat fly out of the country.

Bashundhara Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan is on the Anti-Corruption Commission list of graft suspects. He escaped to London soon after the anti-graft drive began and has been hiding abroad since then.