Vol. 5 Num 1113 Wed. July 18, 2007  
Front Page

Hasina, Khaleda given 7 days for wealth report
ACC serves notices

The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday served notices on former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina to submit their wealth statements as part of its initiative to find out whether there is any ground for filing graft cases against the two.

In the notices, the government anti-graft watchdog asked the chiefs of BNP and Awami League (AL) to submit statements of their movable and immovable properties to the commission within seven working days from the date of the notification.

AL President Sheikh Hasina, who had been arrested on Monday and sent to a sub-jail, was served with the notice through the jail authorities while the notice to Khaleda was sent to her Mainul Road residence in Dhaka Cantonment.

Talking to reporters on the ACC premises, its Secretary Mokhles Ur Rahman said the decision was taken yesterday morning. "This is a routine work of the commission," the secretary added.

On receiving the two most prominent leaders' wealth statements, the ACC will crosscheck the statements with the information gathered by itself with assistance from intelligence agencies.

"The ACC will file cases against them, if they are found to be suppressing information about their wealth in the statements," a source in the ACC said.

Sources in intelligence agencies said they already have information about the wealth of the two leaders. The intelligence agencies gathered the information by collecting the two leaders' wealth statements submitted to the Election Commission during filing of their nominations, and from NBR. Besides, they collected information about the two leaders' bank accounts and examined whether there were any unusual transactions, the sources said.

All the documents and information collected by the intelligence agencies were sent to the ACC, the sources added.

Examining the information and documents, the sources in the ACC said they believe inconsistencies might be found in the statements to be submitted by the two former prime ministers.

According to the ACC rules a person will be punished with a maximum of ten years imprisonment, if that person is found guilty of suppressing information in the wealth statement.

Meanwhile, the ACC is preparing to file more corruption cases against the two top leaders as the intelligence agencies already sent some documents to the commission for taking such actions, the sources said.

Besides, the ACC is looking into the possibility of reviving the unresolved cases filed with the now defunct Bureau of Anti-corruption against the two former premiers.

Both the top leaders, who are already under tremendous pressure within and outside their parties to retire from politics, will face increased difficulties if they have to deal with the ACC's new initiatives.

Hasina, who is now in a sub-jail and already sued in three extortion cases during the army backed caretaker government's regime, might face additional difficulties in preparing her wealth statement for possible lack of proper counsel.

On the other hand, although BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has not been detained yet, she is virtually confined to her residence and isolated.

Neither the government nor any individual has yet filed any case against Khaleda Zia during the caretaker government's regime. But the sources said corruption cases might be filed against her too.

The two leaders may submit their statements through their representatives, as the law does not make their physical presence mandatory for submitting the statements.

Subject to valid reasons, the ACC may extend the time limit for the submissions by an additional seven working days if the two former premiers fail to submit their statements within the stipulated first seven days.