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The World Bank has appointed a panel of international experts to assess credibility of the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the alleged corruption in the Padma bridge project.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will head the three-member panel, said a release of the WB on Friday.

He will be assisted by Timothy Tong, a former commissioner of the Independent Commission against Corruption in Hong Kong, and Richard Alderman, a former director of the UK Serious Fraud Office.

A finance ministry official said the team will submit a report to the WB within a month.

The global lender has made the move as part of its steps to provide $1.2 billion credit for the project.

“I welcome the panel and look forward to their findings on the status and progress made by the ACC of Bangladesh in their investigation,” said WB President Jim Yong Kim in the statement.

“The Padma project is a very significant investment for the people of Bangladesh and we remain committed to ensuring the integrity of its implementation. This panel creates a unique opportunity for the people of Bangladesh to raise the bar on transparency, public accountability and governance.”

Panel chief 60-year-old Ocampo is an Argentine lawyer and the first prosecutor of the ICC. He previously worked as a prosecutor in Argentina, famously combating corruption and prosecuting human rights abuses by top military commanders in the Trial of the Juntas.

The WB panel will visit Bangladesh in the middle of this month, Ellen Goldstein, country director of the WB in Bangladesh, told reporters at a programme in Dhaka yesterday.

Also speaking to the media at the same event, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the government is fully prepared to cooperate with the WB external panel.

The announcement about the appointment of the panel comes after the WB on September 20 revived its loan deal for the project.

The WB, said the release, will finance the project only after satisfactory implementation of all the measures as well as receiving a positive report from the external panel of international experts.

The panel will share its findings with the government of Bangladesh. It will also advise the WB and the co-financiers -- Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank -- on the credibility of the government's investigations.

The finance ministry official said two WB teams will visit Bangladesh this month. One of the teams will introduce the external panel and hold meetings with the ACC and the government to decide on how the panel will function.

The second team will discuss with the co-financiers and the government about the new implementation arrangements of the project.

Meanwhile, Muhith will travel to Japan this week to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

On the fringes of the meeting, he is scheduled to meet WB Vice-president for South Asia Isabel Guerrero and its Managing Director Mulyani Indrawati.

The minister will brief them about the latest developments on the project and request them for fast-track implementation of necessary measures to make the fund available for Bangladesh.

Last week Muhith met top officials of the JICA and ADB in Dhaka. The two co-financiers have proposed some plans to the minister which he will share with the top WB officials, mentioned the ministry official.

The WB team would sign terms of reference and a letter of understanding with the government, he added.

Under the terms of reference, the ACC will have to provide the panel with full access to all investigative files, materials, documents and any other information gathered by the anti-graft watchdog's enquiry team.

As per the letter of understanding, the WB will have the right to exercise the full range of remedies, including the cancellation of the financing, if it finds that the investigation is not proceeding in a full, fair and expeditious manner at any point prior to the launching of tenders.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, said, "As the members of the World Bank panel are professionally experienced and have strong backgrounds, I have no doubt about their competency."

The move will ensure a fair and transparent investigation, he told BBC Bangla Service.

ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said there would be no necessity to sign any separate agreement with the WB.

The panel, he noted, would not take part in the investigation. "Our law does not have any such provision.”

The WB had cancelled funding for the $2.9b project in June this year citing it had proof of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian consultancy firm and some private individuals.

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We have believed that there was NO corruption involved, but why Padma bridge entirely at WB's harsh terms? Who pays the lawyers' fees and many other charges? This will take a long time and we shall have no say but only say, 'Yes Sir'.

Let us wait for a few more years, save over time domestically, and by austerity, no foreign trips etc., then we can build with our OWN resources.

It now is clear that time is not on our side.

: Anonymous

The team is definitely strong and composed of real professional in the field of corruption detection process.

But is it not too high powered to iassess the performance of the ACC capacity to proble the alleged case of corruption of Padma bridge ?

Honestly speaking Bangladesh needs this type of team operation in Bangladesh as long as foreign aids are received from donors including the WB with appropriate TOR to perform its assigned task.

It is too early to comment because we have not heard the government reaction and the full Terms of References are yet to be revealed.

I am not sure whether he was the chief of the war crime crminal court or the ICC ?

One would expect him not to overlap his function with that of the war crime tribunal functioning now in Banglaadesh, but assist the ACC to conduct a neutral investigation for the judiciary to give the final judgement based on facts and figure.

If we are looking for the end game, be sure that the padma bridge fundig would not be avaiable even after the next election unlles the chapter is closed by mutual consent of the next government and the WB.

A case of this nature should take years to geta final verdict passing throgh all appeal court of justice.

Mere earmarking the alleged corrupt public servants by a creditable investigation with the help of of an overpowered team members announced by the WB is not enough to close the game.

: neutral

Comments

  • Reaz Hassan
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 01:35 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    We welcome the international experts who are here to judge the credibility of the investigations to be carried out by the ACC. I am sure that the experts will have a good experience and gain a lot of knowledge from us!

  • Ahmed Badruzzaman
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 02:22 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    This is all and good but how did the country arrive at this shameful juncture where foreign overseers are needed because an investigation by our sovereign government cannot be trusted? It is a sad day.

  • AhmedJamil Farouque
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 02:59 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    This is wastage of time and squandering our tax-payer's money. We did not have Padma bridge so long we can do without it for sometime more, we are just creating jobs for these retired men of foreign origin. I am sure as neither the Canadians nor our ACC could come out with anything, these would not bring out anything new.

  • niloufar sarker
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 03:15 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    To send the ex-chief prosecutor of International Crime Court to assess the credibility of ACC is a scare tactics and is a form of bullying. Now WB is clean up corruption in Bangladesh with the help of an international panel. This is a sheer waste of money on WB's part. Surely, WB is not a philanthropic institution, though it is aim is to alleviate poverty in the third world countries.

  • Mahbubr Rahman Sharif
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 10:58 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    Ensuring whole hearted support is the ample requirement to prove the ACC credibility. Unnecessary talking from government official should be off. The Padma bridge is our crying need to development in the country. Now our big task is to go forward to implement the project creating an enabling environment without corruption.

  • Haque
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 05:20 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    Who pay their salary it may WB cut from our loan.

  • N. Alamgir
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 05:45 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    This is surely a slap in the face of Bangladesh. Is it that World Bank believes that there is widespread rampant corruption in Bangladesh. Where does the statement of our PM stands when she says that there has been no graft during her tenure? When such a team comes where is laying the credibility of our ACC?

  • Translucent
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 06:10 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    We welcome the international panel to oversee the activities of ACC in Padma bridge project. In addition to investigations of the wrongdoings, it will provide some accountability to the ruling party and hopefully create new momentum to get the project restarted.

  • Azman
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 06:32 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    WB has not revived the loan. As per the letter of understanding, the WB will have the right to, the cancellation of the financing.

  • Fida Likhon
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 08:18 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    Eliminate corruption from Bangladesh should be the first priority of the people, because corruption is the main reason of why our Bangladesh is poor. It is not only a mere political issue that AL government is corrupted. It is a serious virus that enters into the every cell of the blood of government officials from ministry to the union council. Anyone who is becoming a minister is convinced to gain some commission money that is the alternative name of corruption. During the BNP-Jamaat regime, corruptions were open-secret. We, Bangladeshi, people should strongly stand up against corruption. We do not care who is AL or who is BNP or Jamaat. We care the development of our country. So, let us all support WB or ACC or any other foreign agency which can show up their stick against the corrupted and narrow minded government people of any regime of any time.

  • habib
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 09:09 AM GMT+06:00 (468 weeks ago)

    We want only Padma bridge with the help of the World Bank.


 

 

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