The Anti-Corruption Commission is now looking at the trial of SNC Lavalin scam in the Canadian court so that it can obtain documentary evidence of Syed Abul Hossain's alleged involvement in the Padma bridge project graft.
At the moment, the commission does not have any documents to prove that the former communications minister was involved in the scam.
The ACC hopes to get a copy of the verdict and other relevant paper and use those against Abul Hossain if the verdict goes against two SNC Lavalin officials accused in the case, commission sources say.
The two Lavalin officials -- Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail -- were arrested by Canadian police on charges of offering bribe to some Bangladesh public and private officials and individuals to secure the consultancy job. The hearing of the case is expected to start in April next year, but it cannot be predicted when the trial would end.
ACC sources said Abul Hossain left no documentary evidence that could prove his role in dissolving the tender evaluation committee four times and reconstituting them to make sure that Canadian firm SNC Lavalin bags the $50 million job to supervise the bridge's construction.
As a result, the ACC could not sue Abul for now, although the World Bank brought specific allegation against him. Abul's name was mentioned as a "suspect," not an accused, in the case the ACC filed against seven people on Monday.
The WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding on June 29 this year, saying it had proof of a "corruption conspiracy" involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of SNC Lavalin and some individuals.
The global lender revived the deal in September with an understanding that the government would take appropriate measures against all those involved in the conspiracy.
A competent ACC source told The Daily Star yesterday that the commission would collect a certified copy of the Canadian trial court's verdict, which is likely to be important hard evidence against Abul Hossain.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told this correspondent that if the certified copies were collected through Mutual Legal Assistance Rules or embassy, they would surely be accepted as evidence in Bangladesh courts.
"We collected the official letters about dissolving and reconstituting the evaluation committee for selecting a supervision consultant but these letters were not signed by Abul Hossain," the ACC source said.
Also, the commission did not find any official documents to establish that Abul Hossain held meetings with SNC Lavalin officials, although such meetings indeed took place.
Official documents show former Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf Hossain convened those meetings.
Ramesh's diary seized by the Canadian police also mentioned the names of Abul Hossain, former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Mosharraf and others who were to be bribed.
During its year-long inquiry, the ACC came to know through interviewing over three dozen people that Abul Hossain gave verbal instructions to his officials, leaving no hard evidence. The ex-minister did not have any email communications with Lavalin either, according to the ACC source.
In its case, the ACC stated that Syed Abul Hossain along with Mosharraf met Lavalin officials several times. Following these meetings, the bridge authority on June 19 last year sent recommendation for work order in favour of SNC Lavalin.
According to officials of Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division that deals with procurement rules, the rules empower the secretary to dissolve or form evaluation committees. But in case of large projects, the secretary must consult the minister concerned to do so.
Contacted, former cabinet secretary Akbar Ali Khan said, “In the past, the secretary did not have the power to dissolve or form any tender evaluation committee. All powers were vested in the minister.”
Former communications secretary Ali Kabir, who has recently retired after working under Abul Hossain, said: “In any big project, secretaries usually consult the ministers before forming such committees.”
Meanwhile, the ACC yesterday formed a four-member committee to investigate the case filed with Banani Police Station. The team was asked to submit a report at the earliest.
ACC Deputy Director Abdullah Al Zahid will lead the team comprised of three other deputy directors -- Mir Mohammad Zainul Abedin Shebly, Golam Shahriar Chowdhury and Mirza Zahidul Alam.
ACC Director Moniruzzaman will monitor the investigation.
The seven accused in the case are former secretary of the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Superintendent Engineer of Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, Executive Engineer of Roads and Highway Department Reaz Ahmed Zaber, Deputy Managing Director of Engineering and Planning Consultant, a local agent Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, Mohammad Mostofa and SNC Lavalin officials Mohammad Ismail, Ramesh Shah and Kevin Wales.
Alleged involvement of Abul Hossain and Abul Hasan in the graft would be examined during the investigation.