A High Court Division bench on Thursday overturned a trial court decision which acquitted BNP leader Tarique Rahman of money laundering charge and sentenced him to seven years’ jail with a fine of Tk 20 crore.
The two-judge bench comprising of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Amir Hossain also directed the trial court to issue conviction warrant against Tarique.
In a brief verdict, the bench said that as Tarique was absconding his jail term would be executed after he was arrested or when he surrenders.
The bench also upheld the seven years’ jail term of Tarique’s friend Giasuddin Al Mamun but reduced his fine to Tk 20 crore from Tk 40 crore.
The HC bench also directed the Anti Corruption
Commission to sue Hosaf Group chairman Moazzam Hossain, Nirman Construction chairman Khadiza Islam, Mayer Cie-Re and Marina Jaman as they aided the convicts in obtaining the laundered money and were parties in the offence.
According to the charge sheet the four persons deposited US $ 27, 78, 970 in Mamun’s bank account in Singapore as ‘consultation fee’ between January 2003 and September 2003 and that Mamun could provide no satisfactory answers to investigators after he was arrested in 2007.
It also said, in 2007, the Bangladesh government brought back Tk 20.41 crore from Mamun’s bank account in Singapore.
It also says that on September 26, 2009, the ACC filed the money laundering case alleging that Mamun had illegally siphoned off Tk20.41 crore to Singapore between 2003 and 2007.
In the charge sheet, ACC said that the four persons had given the money to Tarique for ‘undue advantages’ he gave to them.
It said that instead of opening an account in his own name, Tarique received the money in the account of his friend.
In the charger sheet, ACC also said that Tarique withdrew foreign currency worth about Tk 45 lakh from Mamun’s Citi Bank account in Singapore, using his supplementary credit card.
The bench gave a common verdict after analogous hearing of two appeals, one filed by the ACC seeking overturning of Tarique’s acquittal and –the other by Mamun challenging his sentence.
No lawyer could defend Tarique as he defied summons.
In his reaction, law minister Anisul Huq told reporters at his secretariat office that now justice had been done.
He said that the trial court judge was influenced to acquit Tarique.
He said that the government would do everything to bring back Tarique to ensure that he served his jail term.
Lawyer Zainul Abedin termed the HC verdict as ‘politically motivated’.
In its observations, the bench said Tarique Rahman being the mighty political elite by virtue of his position obtained ‘dirty money’ in the name of consultation fee through his close cohort Giasuddin Al Mamun.
The bench also said, ‘This kind of corruption backed by political influence threatens good governance, sustainable development and democratic process.’
The bench also said that financial crimes and corruption for amassing wealth under political shield was on the increase.
It said being guilty of laundering the huge amount of ill-gotten fund Tarique deserved no leniency.
The bench also said that powerful offenders engaged in laundering huge amounts of ill-gotten money, hiding its source and means, must be resisted by awarding appropriate punishment in the interest of the country’s development.
On November 17, 2013, Dhaka Court-3 of Special Judge Motaher Hossain acquitted Tarique of the charge and jailed Mamun for seven years with a fine of Tk 40 crore.
The trial court acquitted Tarique of money laundering charge on the ground that under the money laundering act cash withdrawal does not constitute money laundering offence.
The trial court verdict said there was no basis in the allegation brought by ACC against Tarique that he had suppressed the information that he had withdrawn foreign currency worth about Tk 45 lakh using his supplementary credit card from Mamun’s Citi Bank account in Singapore.
The trial court verdict said that in the wealth statement Tarique gave to the ACC on June 7, 2007 he declared that he withdrew the amount from Mamun’s account in Singapore.
The trial court said that it found this information in ACC’s case documents.
The trial court verdict also said that under the money laundering law a withdrawer cannot be held liable for money laundering if a friend allows him to withdraw money from his bank account.
Angry over the verdict, the ACC launched an investigation against judge Motaher Hossain of the trial court to find out whether or not he had illegal wealth.
Later, ACC said that its investigation revealed that on January 8, 2014, judge Motaher left for Malaysia, 53 days after delivering the verdict.
ACC also said that it had requested the Malaysian government to provide information regarding judge Motaher.
This is the first time that Tarique Rahman had been sentenced in one of over a dozen cases filed against him by the army backed caretaker government in 2007 and 2008 and later by the Awami League government.
Lawyers said that after Awami League returned to power it withdrew all the cases filed against its leaders by the army backed caretaker government in 2007 and 2008.
But the BNP leaders are being tried in cases filed against them by the military backed caretaker government, they said.
Source: New Age