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Thursday, October 11, 2012
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Padma Bridge Graft

WB panel to assess probe from Sunday

The World Bank's external panel assigned to oversee the probe into the alleged corruption in the Padma bridge project will arrive in Dhaka on Sunday.

The team will work with the Anti-Corruption Commission that is investigating the corruption allegations.

“This will be an initial introductory visit, and the first in a series of regular visits aimed at assessing adequacy of the investigation into the alleged corruption under the Padma bridge project,” the Dhaka office of the global lender said in a statement yesterday.

The panel will submit reports to the WB and share its findings with the Bangladesh government and other co-financiers of the project, it said.

The global lender had cancelled its credit for the $2.9 billion project on June 29, saying it had credible evidence of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some private individuals.

Later, the WB decided to revive its $1.2 billion loan on September 21 after the government agreed on its terms and conditions that include sending all public officials allegedly involved in the corruption scheme on leave until the completion of the probe.

The WB on October 5 announced the appointment of the three-member panel headed by Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The other two members are Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China; and Richard Alderman, former director of the UK Serious Fraud Office.

Meanwhile, the ACC is making preparations for holding meetings with the WB's external panel, an official said yesterday.

“We have discussed the issue with the ACC director general yesterday,” said a member of the ACC team investigating the alleged corruption in the Padma bridge project.

The ACC formed the team with four deputy directors in the first week of September.

The official said the ACC would “clarify its position” to the WB panel on the basis of its findings so far.

The investigator also said the Canadian authority did not cooperate with the commission in the probe.

The ACC is investigating allegations that Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin had offered huge bribes to at least six influential Bangladeshi officials, including two former government ministers, to obtain the consultant's job in the Padma bridge project.

The Canadian company's two former executives -- Ramesh Shah, 61, of Oakville, and Bangladesh born Mohammad Ismail, 48, of Mississauga -- were arrested in February and formally charged with corruption in the Padma bridge project in April, according to a report of the Canadian Press that quoted Lucy Shorey as a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Ramesh was a vice-president and Ismail was director of international projects at SNC-Lavalin in Toronto.

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There is no doubt that there would be difference between the ACC team and ICC team on strategy and laid down rules for such an investion ; one can not rule out the question of difficulty of having actual trail in Bangladeshi court if alleged public servants are prosecuted..

: neutral





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