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Monday, December 3, 2012
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Padma Bridge Graft

Three may be sued

WB team meets ACC, says it is encouraged

A World Bank team arrives at Anti-Corruption Commission's head office in the capital yesterday to hold a meeting on the anti-graft body's progress in investigations into the Padma bridge project corruption. Photo: Focus Bangla

The Anti-Corruption Commission is likely to sue tomorrow former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, ex-secretary of the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and ex-director of Padma bridge project Rafiqul Islam for influencing the selection of a consultant for the project.

Apart from the three, certain top officials of Bangladesh Bridge Authority, Padma bridge project and the local agency of Canadian consultancy firm SNC Lavalin are to be sued, said several sources in the ACC.

Two SNC Lavalin officials are already facing trial in a Canadian court on charges of bribing Bangladeshi public officials to get the $50 million consultancy job in the bridge project.

Preferring anonymity, an ACC high official said, "The enquiry into the alleged corruption conspiracy is nearing completion and we may sue them on December 4."

With the filing of a case, the ACC's enquiry into the WB's corruption allegations in the project will come to an end and the ACC will then be able to start its probe, said the official.

ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said the ACC enquiry team will quiz former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister Abul Hasan today, and then submit its enquiry report.

The ACC will take necessary legal steps following the submission of the report, Rahman told reporters at his office yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ellen Goldstein, WB country director for Bangladesh, said, "If there is sufficient progress [in ACC investigation] then we are hopeful that indeed the bridge can be built."

Goldstein made the comment after the visiting WB external panel met with ACC officials in the latter's office in the capital.

"This meeting was simply to find out what progress was made in the investigation...we are very encouraged so far by the initial meeting…we expect to have more meetings over the next three or four days," she said.

The WB panel headed by Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, earlier visited Dhaka in October.

The two other panel members are Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission against Corruption of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

Replying to a query on a recent meeting between the project's co-financiers in Manila, Goldstein said, "This was a set of preliminary discussion in order to determine how to revise the implementation arrangement for the bridge project."

Coming out of the meeting with the WB's external panel at his secretariat office, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the panel now sees a ray of hope the way the ACC is conducting its enquiry.

The panel wanted to see action, which means launching of an investigation, filing of case and submission of charge sheet, said Muhith.

He said the project's implementation will begin soon after the investigation gets started.

The ACC chairman said, "The World Bank gave us a lot of information and we have to collect data in a way that is acceptable to the court."

The enquiry team has so far interrogated more than 30 people, including Abul Hossain and Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman, in connection with the corruption allegations in the $2.9 billion project.

The ACC launched the enquiry in September last year after the WB raised corruption allegations in the project.

ACC sources said that unless the anti-graft body files a First Information Report, it cannot proceed from its enquiry to an investigation as expected by the global lender.

The WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding on June 29, saying it had proof of a "corruption conspiracy" involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.

The global lender on September 21 decided to revive the loan after the Bangladesh government agreed to the WB's terms and conditions.

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PM Hasina rescind your certification of Abul Hossain's Patriotism --we demand it. And Also ACC Chairman must resign for his incompetence and untruthful statements.

: rch

It is good initiative of ACC. We have no alternative but have to follow WB advice as we needed a bridge.

: Sohul Ahmed Moku

Comments

  • niloufar sarker
    Monday, December 3, 2012 01:22 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    All this activities point to one thing and that is WB loan is still very much in doubt. So far we were lead to believe that corruption investigation and loan processing will go on simultaneously. Why should the loan depend on the outcome of the court case? Apparently the WB has decided on a guilty verdict and all they want is a validation from our court. If our court finds them innocent, we do not get the loan. WB has not disbursed the loan yet, so they could have built the Padma Bridge under their guide line and supervision.

  • Selma
    Monday, December 3, 2012 01:25 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    I hope the real culprits are caught as the people mentioned are only tip of the ice berg.

  • naabaj
    Monday, December 3, 2012 01:30 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    Govt should be impartial in this investigation so people can restore their confidence in managing public purse to the cause of the country not for embezzlers.

  • neutral
    Monday, December 3, 2012 01:49 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    Is there any short cut way to take any kind of interim decision to go ahead with finalisation of the revised schedule of work subject to ultimate satisfaction of the donors to release the fund? The purpose is to find out exactly when the bridge can star- in 2o13, 2014 or 2015 free of corruption as acceptable limit by the donors. The world is not corruption free. Even in highly democratic society with so many check and balance corruption of different types prevails. In a typical society and government like China, corruption prevails and visible. The kingdoms and dictatorial governance are not free from corruption. It is part of civilization and value in governance.

  • Robin
    Monday, December 3, 2012 01:56 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    Not enough! Where are Abul and Mishiur? Timothy Tong knows pretty well that the Government is trying desperately to shelter the duo. PM's son in law in Toronto has been barred by the Toronto Police from leaving the country. Meanwhile, the Lavalin case will be heard by a Toronto Court in April.

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, December 3, 2012 11:37 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    The ACC is doing a great job. And we hope it will investigate corruption conspiracy or wrong doings of every side including the foreign companies.

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Monday, December 3, 2012 02:25 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    I sincerely hope WB return to negotiation and release the Padma bridge fund immediately. However, we would also like to see the character certificate issuers and their buddies pay a price for their unbridle savagery and breach of contract to the nation.

  • shotto badi
    Monday, December 3, 2012 04:08 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    Abul Hasan Chowdhury is one of the cleanest (if not the only cleanest) person in AL. it is quite absurd to see charges being brought against the innocent while the real criminals get certificates of patriotism.

  • Mizan Rahman
    Monday, December 3, 2012 04:10 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    We want to see at least this time that ACC is an independent constitutional body. The inquiry is a legal pending matter. We do not want to see that the highest level of government make any comment that proves ACC is not independent. Padma bridge is the demand from the whole nation and ACC does understand that this is high time to do some good work for our tax payers who they have to serve not others - whatever powerful they are.

  • suahmed
    Monday, December 3, 2012 05:24 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    What a farce! Who is now a patriot - Mr Abul Hossain or a martyr who gave life in Liberation War? AL Govt. has changed the definition of patriot.

  • Truth Teller
    Monday, December 3, 2012 07:13 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    What about Abul Hossain? If he and Mashiur are not sued then the World Bank will pull out.

  • Mohammad Nurul Hoque
    Monday, December 3, 2012 07:19 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    If it becomes true then I say we progress one step to stop our corruption. Symbolically it may appear government's fault but significantly it is a great win for our nation.

  • Hasan
    Monday, December 3, 2012 07:34 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    It will be a historical move for ACC, if it can put those corrupt officials along with minister behind the bars by proving the graft. Waiting for that golden day. God bless ACC.

  • Dr. Ahsan Habib
    Monday, December 3, 2012 09:31 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    I wonder how World Bank can have faith in an ACC which so far came up with diametrically opposite conclusions. They should have asked for a new set of officials at ACC and current ACC bosses should also consider resigning after this insult on their performance.

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, December 3, 2012 10:54 AM GMT+06:00 (138 weeks ago)

    Very interesting: Both the World Bank and the ACC are working quite efficiently under the supervision of the external panel. The ACC is working diligently because it has received a lot of new information provided by the World Bank. On the other hand, the WB under the guidance of its external panel is working efficiently to provide the ACC with relevant information the latter is looking for. For example, the WB on November 13 sent a third report to the ACC on corruption evidence. However, unlike its current diligence (to provide necessary information), the WB was never seen so attentive previously when the BD government requested the global lender to provide necessary information or documents on corruption evidence. Thanks to the WB for its current diligent work. And thanks to the external panel for creating such new energy among the officials of both sides.


 

 


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