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Monday, October 15, 2012
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Padma Bridge Graft Probe

WB panel starts assessment

Corruption conspiracy is an offence in Bangladesh, ACC tells them in first meeting; discussion 'very productive', says WB country director

The WB country director along with a three-member external panel of the global lender leaves the ACC office yesterday afternoon.Photo: STAR

The World Bank's external panel yesterday inquired of the Anti-Corruption Commission whether corruption conspiracy was considered an offence under Bangladesh laws, said a senior lawyer representing the ACC.

"They [the panel] wanted to know whether corruption conspiracy is considered an offence in our country. We have told them that it is an offence," said advocate Anisul Huq.

He was talking to the media after the first meeting between the ACC and the WB's external panel assessing the conduct of the ACC probe into the alleged corruption in the Padma bridge project.

The global lender had cancelled its $1.2 billion 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.

The panel, headed by Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, also wanted to know the definition of corruption according to Bangladesh laws, said Huq.

The lawyer said both sides agreed that the probe into the corruption allegations over the project would be conducted in line with Bangladesh laws.

ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said the team inquired about the process of investigation and trial in Bangladesh.

“We briefed them accordingly,” said Rahman.

Asked whether the panel had made any suggestions to the ACC, he said it did not give them any advice.

The panel met top ACC officials after it arrived in Dhaka yesterday to assess the conduct of the ACC probe into the alleged corruption in the project.

WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein, who accompanied the panel, said they had a “very productive” initial meeting with the ACC.

"They [the ACC] have shown us their full collaboration and the topic of the discussion was the way in which the panel and the ACC will work together so that the panel can provide advice and also assess the characteristics of the investigation," said Goldstein.

The team will submit a report to the WB with its findings. A positive report on the Bangladesh government's handling of the corruption allegations in the project is likely to pave the way for an early release of its $1.2 billion credit.

Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Richard Alderman, former director of the UK Serious Fraud Office, are the two other members of the WB panel headed by Ocampo.

The WB, which decided to revive its loan on September 21 after the Bangladesh government agreed to its terms and conditions, appointed the external panel early this month to assess the conduct of the ACC investigation.

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We welcome such joint initiatives and eagerly awaiting for investigation reports its whether corruption conspiracy!

: Sengupta, Canada

There is court case pending against SNC Lavalin for intending to bribe officials in Libya and in Bangladesh. Intending to bribe is a punishable offence in western countries irrespective of whether the intended recipient accepted it or not. Many of us are jumping the gun blaming the intended recipients of accepting a bribe. It is the job of the august external panel and our ACC to prove beyond reasonable doubt that officials named indeed agreed to accept the intended bribe. Character assassination is also a punishable offence so we should desist from making rash judgemental comments.

: niloufar sarker

Comments

  • himukala
    Monday, October 15, 2012 04:37 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    So far media and some commentators have publicised that corruption has already taken place. Now, they can see it is a conspiracy to corruption and the ACC has clarified that a conspiracy is an offence but not a corruption under Bangladesh law. In fact, this is all politics and a conspiracy by WB to delay the loan to punish the govt for mishandling the Grameen Bank and ensure that she can not build Padma bridge to win the next election.

  • Ahmed Kamal
    Monday, October 15, 2012 05:36 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    The World Bank team should examine the efficacy of the ACC. If not, it should recommend the steps that should be taken. Since the government has more than majority in the parliament it should not take time to institute the necessary changes. Why the BNP is silent on this issue.

  • Mizan Rahman
    Monday, October 15, 2012 06:10 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    We, the ordinary citizen, want to see two things: find out persons involved in corruption and implementation of the Padma bridge. We hope WB will take both into their considerations and upheld its pledge for the whole nation.

  • habibur
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:24 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    We want only Padma bridge with World Bank. But do not know how it is possible this government tenure?

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:43 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    Excellent photograph showing the WB's official and external panel members ready with all the gears. But has the WB official brought the proof or evidence of corruption that they raised but failed to show so far? The WB famously said earlier that corruption conspiracy took place in the Padma project. But early this month, the WB country director said if the panel finds any corruption in the project, the WB will not allow credit for the bridge. What does it mean? Does it mean the WB now understands that its claim of corruption is doubtful and questionable? Creation of the external panel to find the proof now clearly indicates that the WB's accusation of corruption against BD officials was not proper. Therefore, they have appointed such expert panel now to find it out. They could have appointed such panel a year ago before making any such accusation.

  • Translucent
    Monday, October 15, 2012 07:18 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    Corruption of a few government officials should not delay the process of the bridge construction. Both investigations and construction processes could run in parallel. The WB should find another way to wield a big stick at the government.

  • Sanwar Moni
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:57 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    Though it is shameful but learning too. We should keep in mind that never again this will be happened.

  • himukala
    Monday, October 15, 2012 09:57 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    Mr moderator, you did not publish my comment. Show respect to freedom of opinion and publish my comments below:

    What a joke! So far media and some commentators have publicised that corruption has already taken place. Now, they can see it is a conspiracy to corruption and ACC has clarified that a conspiracy is an offense but not a corruption under Bangladesh law. In fact this is all politics and a conspiracy by WB to delay the loan to punish Hasina for mishandling the Grameen Bank and ensure that she can not use Padma Bridge to win the next election.

  • Deep Purple Blue
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:03 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    It is a crime to conspire to commit corruption. This is what the WB is interested in. They have evidence of conspiracy to commit corruption perhaps.

  • Md Shahjahan
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:20 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    First impression was good.

  • Alimuzzaman
    Monday, October 15, 2012 11:13 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    I wonder why WB did not bring and hand over their evidence or documents regarding corruption, if they had such. I think WB is delaying and at one point will say 'sorry, there was not enough cooperation from BD. So, we retreat.'

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, October 15, 2012 11:19 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    If the World Bank officials are so sure of corruption, why do they need the experts now to find it out again? Where are their previous proofs or evidence of corruption? Are such proofs invalid now? Are the WB officials not confident about their claims and their so-called proofs?

  • Fida Likhon
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:39 PM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh is poor country mainly because it is corrupted. We feel ashamed in abroad when we hear that Bangladesh is one of the most corrupted countries in the world. I am not only blaming AL-led government, it was rather worse in the regime of BNP-Jamaat led government. We need to get rid of the corruption culture. We need to make sure that no government officials are seeking extra beyond their salaries.

    B

  • Reaz Hassan
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:19 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    We hope that the World Bank's external panel would not only unearth, if there be any, corruption or conspiracy to corruption in the matter of Padma Bridge funding. We also expect our ACC not only to cooperate with the team but also to learn the art of quizzing to extract valuable information from suspects. Let the WB extend their all out support to our ACC to make the institution strong and viable so that corruption can be brought down to a manageable level.

  • sohul ahmed moku
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:27 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    There is no problem to prove any corruption within the the frame work of ACC. The problem arises, when ACC or any regulatory body failed to work independantly due to political influences.

  • Amdem, USA
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:28 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    The news is diplomatic. The external-panel has come with a purpose and its view will be known only after its discussion with ACC. They will not say anything in advance. Wait for the result.

  • Nasirullah Mridha,USA
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:30 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    WB panel advent for investigation could be tincture of hope our dream project if no corruption were happened.ACC will be in awkward position if they find gross anomalies.We hope WB team investigation and findings would be last for sustain our image. External investigation teams came in our country for unearth our corruption is no way is palatable for our country's image.

  • neutral
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:55 AM GMT+06:00 (107 weeks ago)

    This is exactly what I anticipated keeping in mind the legal set of the ICC in persecuting a case and that of Bangladeshi laws which are definitely going to differ.

    Now it is upto the experts of both sides to find a common ground to continue the discussion and agree to a compromising formula to get out of the gridlock and the lender is able to lift the ban caused by conditions applied to a country which is run by old British criminal and civil laws inadequate and ineffective to correctly identify and bring the criminal to justice .

    These old laws are only helping the politicians to survive from being prosecuted on criminal and moral corruption charges.

    I hope the external panel of the WB would pay attention to upgrading the laws and institutional strengthening be a new era of support as long term measure rather than snap shot like the present one.

    The WB panel is expected to protect the interest of the innocent individual and not pushed through a messy investigation, prosecution and trail entirely a new era in Bangladesh history of corruption investigation.


 

 


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