ACC, WB fail to decide names to be sued

In this December 1 photo, a World Bank team arrives at Anti-Corruption Commission’s head office in the capital to hold a meeting on the anti-graft body’s progress in investigations into the Padma bridge project corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Commission and the World Bank external panel could not reach a consensus on Tuesday regarding inclusion and exclusion of some names in the graft case to be filed over Padma bridge project.

“The number of people to be sued is between seven and eight but less than ten,” ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said adding that the anti-graft watchdog and the WB team will sit again on Wednesday to finalise the names to be included in the case.

“No money was exchanged, but we agreed with the World Bank panel that there were talks of exchanging money,” the ACC chief told reporters while leaving his office at the city’s Segunbagicha in the evening.

ACC Commissioner Mohammad Shahabuddin told the reporters the commission differed with the WB team over some legal interpretations.

Earlier in the day, an ACC team submitted its enquiry report on the allegation of corruption centring the Padma bridge project.

The four-member team, which launched an enquiry over the graft allegations in September last year, submitted the report to the anti-graft body in the morning.

The visiting external panel of the World Bank, headed by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo, met with the commission at the ACC office around 3:00pm to discuss the report.

The ACC completed its enquiry on Monday with quizzing former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury into alleged conspiracy to influence the selection of a consultant for the Padma bridge construction.

The panel arrived in Dhaka on December 1 and sat with the commission on the following days to know the progress of the report.

The other two 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.

The global lender’s team, now in Dhaka for the second time to assess the progress in the enquiry, will hold more meetings with the anti-graft body till December 6, said an ACC official.

The Bank 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.

Earlier, the external panel came to Dhaka on October 14 for the first time.

The global lender appointed the external team following its September 21 announcement to revive the loan deal.

Source: The Daily Star

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