A two-member team of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will leave for Canada on Sunday for carrying out further investigations into the Padma bridge corruption conspiracy, said a source in the commission. It will be led by the commission’s legal adviser, Advocate Anisul Haque. The other member is ACC deputy director Mirza Zahidul Alam.
When contacted, ACC chairman Ghulam Rahman confirmed on Saturday that a team of the commission would be visiting Canada. Asked whether the commission had received any document it sought from the Canadian authorities in connection with the Padma bridge corruption case, he said: “I don’t want to speak about this.”
Anisul Haque, however, expressed his ignorance regarding the ACC team’s visit. “I have just come to know about it from you,” he added. A senior ACC official said the team would try to collect the copy of SNC Lavalin
official Romesh Shah’s diary, where he had written about the percentage of bribes paid to Bangladesh government officials and individuals using “codes”.
During the visit, he said the team will also try to quiz three Canada-based SNC Lavalin officials. The officials are: SNC Lavalin Inc. vice-president Kevin Wales, former vice-president of the international projects division Romesh Shah, and former director Mohammad Ismail Hossain.
He said if the Canadian authorities cooperate with the ACC team, it would be able to collect credible evidence against the perpetrators of the conspiracy.
“The team will return to Dhaka on May 23. It will submit its final report on the corruption conspiracy case,” said the official.
On December 17, the ACC filed a case against seven persons, including the three Canadians. The other four accused are: former bridges division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, superintending engineer Kazi Md Ferdous, executive engineer of roads and highways division Md Riaz Ahmed Zaber and deputy managing director of Engineer and Planning Consultant Limited (EPC) Golam Mostafa.
The names of the Prime Minister’s adviser for economic affairs, Dr Mashiur Rahman, former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury were dropped from the list as the commission did not get any credible evidence against them.
The inquiry team had submitted its interim report to the commission before filing the case with Banani police station.
Of the seven accused, Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Ferdous and Riaz Ahmed were arrested. Mosharraf and Ferdous are now on bail and Riaz was sent to jail after his remand ended.
The World Bank had cancelled its loan agreement over allegations of corruption in appointing the consultant firm for the USD 2.9 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB).
Following a request from the Bangladesh government, the Bank later decided to reconsider the loan after imposing conditions, which included a fair investigation into the corruption allegations. The Bank also formed a three-member international investigation team led by Luis Moreno Ocampo. The Bank later decided not to provide finances for the bridge.
The World Bank team visited Bangladesh twice and held meetings with ACC officials, but could not ultimately reach an agreement with the commission.
The WB also blacklisted SNC Lavalin for 10 years. The ACC, on the other hand, vowed to continue the investigation.
Source: The Independent