No breakthrough in WB, ACC talk

External panel appreciates open discussion with ACC; after the meeting the panel left for airport

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 meeting between the visiting external panel of the World Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission ended Wednesday without any breakthrough.

The WB panel today sat with the graft watchdog twice to reach a consensus on the names of persons to be included in the enquiry report on corruption allegations in the Padma bridge project.

After completing the talks with the ACC at its office at Shegunbagicha, the WB panel left for the airport.

Before leaving the ACC office at 6:35pm, the head of the external panel former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo said, “The panel appreciate the open and frank discussion with the ACC.”

Earlier in the afternoon, the team held a meeting with the anti-graft body and left its office.

Ellen Goldstein, WB country director for Bangladesh, told the media, “We continue to have some unresolved issues and as a result we are going for some internal consultations now.”

“It is possible that we will be coming back today for further discussions,” Goldstein added.

After leaving the ACC office, the team met with the Finance Minister AMA Muhith at his residence.

Later they returned to the ACC around 6:35pm for further discussions.

The meeting between the WB team and the graft watchdog ended inconclusively on Tuesday, 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.

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.

External team arrived in Dhaka for the second time on December 1 and started talks with the ACC from the next day to know the progress the anti-graft watchdog made in investigating the evidence of corruption in the Padma bridge project.

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

The original $1.2 billion WB credit for the bridge was cancelled on June 29 due to an insufficient response by Bangladeshi authorities to evidence of a conspiracy of corruption involving senior public officials.

Subsequently, additional actions were undertaken, and on September 20 the government agreed to go by four conditions that also include proper investigation into the allegations.

Source: The Daily Star

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