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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
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Abul stumbling block

WB team not happy; ACC's draft probe report excludes him from the list of people to be sued; meeting again today

The meeting between the World Bank's external panel and the Anti-Corruption Commission ended inconclusively yesterday, as the panel was unhappy at the commission's bid to drop the name of ex-communications minister Syed Abul Hossain from the draft enquiry report on corruption allegations in the Padma bridge project.

The ACC will hold a meeting with the WB panel today to reach a consensus on the names of persons to be included in the enquiry report.

Wishing anonymity an ACC high official said the draft report has recommended filing cases against the persons involved in the corruption conspiracy in the project.

ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said, "We [the WB panel and the ACC] had an argument over inclusion and exclusion [of names of persons in the enquiry report]…we will sit again tomorrow [today]."

"There had been a conspiracy to exchange bribes, but we [the WB panel and the ACC] could not reach a consensus on who the conspirators are. They [the WB panel] put forward some certain arguments in this regard."

Ellen Goldstein, WB country director for Bangladesh, said, "At this point, we are still in discussion with the ACC and we believe that some progress has been made, but we will be meeting again tomorrow [today] in order to see if we can fully resolve any outstanding issues that we have."

She made the comment after the WB panel met with the ACC officials to review the draft report filed by the ACC enquiry team.

Sources in the ACC said the two sides had a difference of opinion over the draft enquiry report, as the ACC dropped some names, including that of Abul Hossain, though the WB gave sufficient evidence of corruption against him along with others.

The WB panel argued that there was no scope for excluding their names from the enquiry report, said the sources.

On November 13, the WB Integrity Vice Presidency sent the ACC a third report on corruption evidence.

The report contained detailed evidence of corruption against public officials concerned as well as others, said an ACC official wishing anonymity.

The WB prepared the third report based on information received from the Canadian government and other sources.

The third report mentioned the names of those against whom corruption allegations had been raised in an earlier report. But the latest one contained more evidence, said the official.

The ACC thinks that all the corruption evidence provided by the WB might not be acceptable in Bangladesh courts as some laws vary from country to country, said a source in the ACC enquiry team.

ACC Commissioner Mohammad Shahabuddin said, "There may be a difference between the laws of our country and theirs. What they consider as corruption might not be regarded as crime in our country."

These issues should be taken into consideration, he told reporters.

On the draft enquiry report, he said, "The report stated what they [the alleged conspirators] have done individually or collectively."

He said the report mentioned that the offences the conspirators had committed could fall within the purview of the Corruption Prevention Act, 1947 and the Penal Code.

Shahabuddin said the commission may sue the alleged conspirators tomorrow after evaluating the enquiry report.

The ACC commissioner said less than nine people would be sued for their involvement in the corruption conspiracy, while the ACC chairman said the number would be less than 10.

Referring to the report, the ACC chairman said corruption had been committed in the bridge project but no bribe was exchanged.

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

The WB external 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.

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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Money does not need to be exchanged to commit a crime. If there is a conspiracy to commit a crime, that should be enough to take legal actions against someone. That is why Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail are facing criminal justice in Canada for corruption. Even in Bangladesh, police have arrested people who were planning to commit robbery or other criminal activities even though no crimes were committed by those people at the time of their arrests and then brought them to justice. These people were conspiring to commit crimes and they were charged accordingly. If we all agree that bribing is a crime; therefore, conspiring to give or receive bribe is also a crime even though money may not change hands. I have no idea why the Bangladeshi officials, especially those from ACC, argue that money has not been exchanged. With such arguments, they are just abetting the crime and proving themselves incompetent not only to the people of Bangladesh but also to the whole world. The people in the current Awami League government must understand that if the World Bank is not satisfied with the process, it as well as other potential fund providers will pull out. The people in the government should understand that as long as the international financial institutions will smell a rat in the project activities, they would not fund the project. They should also understand this is the last chance to get the funding for the Padma bridge project from the international financial institutions and they must act fast.

: Truth Teller

The world wants the truth to be revealed by the responsible authorities like true guardian of transparency and justice and to finally uphold the sanctity of integrity and fairness towards all, and punishing those who had so much delayed the funding and starting of the project, knowing very well the negative implications for the nation.

: Optimist

Comments

  • M. Siddiique
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:15 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    It is obvious that the ACC is trying to protect someone, may be Abul Hossain, may be some one for whom he is a surrogate. What is being ignored is that the World Bank, having opened this Pandora’s Box, cannot simply walk away from it, and are obligated to see the matter through. So they will persist; what ACC (as should everyone involved) should know is that World Bank knows what transpired. They cannot prosecute this case, only Bangladesh can, and they are giving BD every opportunity to do so. Dropping the main suspects (in World Bank’s dossier) is not going to work. The tragedy is that BD government has already lost credibility; now it seems to be ACC’s turn!

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:18 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Abul says he is not involved; he was approached by Hasan with offer. ACC should include him in the list at least as a probable conspirator; let him prove his innocence in the court. If he comes out clean then that will be his honour, his credit.

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:37 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Abul is not the stumbling block. He is just a pawn. If he is sued, what happens to those who certified him as patriot?

  • Shafique Ullah
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:52 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    ACC is not following the direction the World Bank provided them. They might have some intention to execute the project when the next govt. will come in power.

  • neutral
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:14 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    We think that the time is running out very fast. There is no reason to have full agreement on the list of alleged corrupt public servants and others. The final option for the global lender is to put their recommendation to the government with a firm condition that either take it or look for Padma bridge financial support from elsewhere. Sorry we can not agree to support any corruption which is well established by public perception and enquiry too. Further negotiation on the bride project will be formally closed after completion of the official formalities in Washington. Thanks to the government of Bangladesh and the anti-corruption commission for their cooperation so far.

  • rch
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:43 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Who said the bribe is proven when money changes hand? ACC did not sue Suranjit whose representative was caught with sack full of money! AL has turned ACC into Assisting Corruption Commission.

  • Imtiaz
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:46 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    An ACC Commissioner states that corruption is not a crime. He should be shunted out of the ACC. There are things which are universally accepted. A country can overlook corruption for certain individuals and not for all. That is the case over here. They do not want to call spade as a spade. What a shame.

  • Robert Tarik
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:49 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Why is Abul Hossain being protected? The only plausible reason can be that someone in the government high-up is also involved.

  • Dr. Ahsan Habib
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 03:03 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    We cite the western world in countless instances involving political and economic environment. One of the superb performances of the western world is in the establishment of a sound legal system and institutional structure to support it. To claim that our laws are different is an attempt to create loopholes for our corrupt politicians. Our laws and institutions must conform to the standard of the west except when there is widely accepted difference on social or religious issues.

  • Absar
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 03:10 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Crime is crime. How it can be an act of crime is crime in one country and not in other! Mr Chairman, do not try to fool people!

  • Selma
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 03:58 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    I am very much doubt that AL will be able to comply with WB demands. That’s what happens when the judiciary is controlled by the executive, we have looters whoever is in power because then the judiciary is neutered. We really need independent judiciary with power.

  • Truth Teller
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 04:29 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    What we are observing is that ACC wants to press charges against the people who are at the bottom of the totem pole not the people at the top of the totem pole even though all of them were involved in the same crime. This is happening most likely by the directions of someone who is sitting even at a higher place on the totem pole. Even if ACC would press charge against Syed Abul Hossain and Abul Hasan Chowdhury under pressure from the World Bank, they will be found “not guilty” in the politically controlled judiciary systems of Bangladesh. Again, if they are found guilty just to make the World Bank happy, they will be pardoned by the “soft-hearted” president under the direction of the prime minister who certified Syed Abul Hossain as a patriot.

  • Roni Rahman
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 05:52 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    If the govt has any shred of intelligence left, it would allow the minister Abul Hossain to be prosecuted. Otherwise, the whole case would always remain tainted and incomplete and the govt will not get any credit, though all the credit will go to the WB. In the realm of public opinion/belief, Abul is already a damaged product. The govt has nothing to gain by trying to protect him.

  • N. Alamgir
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 05:58 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Why is the ACC, of course on govt instructions trying to save the prime accused by the World Bank? Is Abul Hossain so important to govt. Besides contributing to corruption, what is his contribution to the betterment of the people of Bangladesh? Is this man of far more importance than the people of Bangladesh?

  • Alpona
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 06:21 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Would I be surprised by this? Not really. It appears that corruption is in the heart of govt. and it is so-called Anti-Corruption Commission. Meanwhile, our PM is trying to divert our attention to something else by slurring on oppositions. I wonder when we would really be liberated from such wicked politicians. I hope World Bank gets to the bottom of this corruption case and finance Bangladesh the correct way.

  • Truth Teller
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 06:49 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    The ACC has proved beyond any doubt that it could not function independently and it has always made movements whenever people in the Awami League government pulled the strings like in a puppet show. ACC and its chief, like the Awami League people, do not care about the country; they are there for themselves and its puppeteers in Awami League. No thanks for the sad puppet show, ACC.

  • Mohammad Nurul Hoque
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 07:06 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    ACC should not cut off any name. We need only one name in our life it is 'Bangladesh'. No name is greater then this name.

  • Hasan
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 07:23 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Just a question! Is the ACC an autonomous institution or a government agency? ACC’s obsequious behaviour toward government is making me believe that BNP’s statement is right. ACC is an agency of government to certify all government corrupt ministers as innocent.

  • Shatyabadi
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 09:04 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    ACC is trying to protect Abul Hossain because other bigger names will surface if he goes on trial. After all the PM thinks that Abul Hossain is the greatest patriot of Bangladesh!

  • habibur Rahman
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 09:58 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    Why will people believe ACC?

  • Ali
    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:13 AM GMT+06:00 (142 weeks ago)

    ACC Chairman must show his professionalism and never compromise with unjust political demands, rather truly demonstrate what he has been saying that he is impartial. Why should the nation suffer for the corruption of few? It would be a good exercise to truly find out the real cost of the delay!


 

 


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