Referring to a recent report by Transparency International deeming the Anti-Corruption Commission ineffective, an ACC commissioner yesterday expressed doubts about transparency of the international corruption watchdog's Bangladesh chapter.
"They [TIB] work with foreign fund. How much of it they spend on research?" ACC Commissioner Md Shahabuddin said while speaking at a function organised at Shilpakala Academy in the capital to award the best metropolitan, district and upazila-level corruption prevention committees.
"A time will come when we will not hesitate to unmask you [TIB].
"We would accept your constructive criticism, but if you run motivated reports against us, it will have a negative effect on society. Our work would be unappreciated and undervalued," the ACC official said.
In the report released last week, TI observed that the ACC is “largely ineffective” in investigating and preventing corruption in the country.
In 2012, the commission submitted charge sheets in 588 cases, of which only 57 cases saw successful prosecution. However, the cases that were moved forward were mostly political in nature, according to the report.
Meanwhile, giving reactions to the ACC commissioner's comments, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, "We will extend our cooperation if the ACC wishes to carry out an investigation [into TIB's operation]."
"However, if the investigation is motivated because we have been critical of their activities, it will be interpreted as an intervention in our freedom of speech," he said, adding that such a step would only reduce ACC's acceptability among people.
TIB is operated by foreign fund with the government's permission and so is accountable to the government regarding the use of the fund. "All activities are made public through reports published on our website," Iftekharuzzaman said.
"If the ACC describes our criticism as motivated, I must say so. Our motive is to make this institution effective by highlighting its strengths and weaknesses from time to time,” he added.
At the award giving ceremony, Shahabuddin also requested the finance minister to return Tk 21 crore to the ACC fund, which had been laundered by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and brought back by the anti-graft watchdog from Singapore in 2012.
After a Dhaka court ordered the government to confiscate the money in a corruption case against Koko, the ACC brought it back by giving an undertaking to the Singapore government that the sum would only be used for corruption prevention purpose.
The money was sent to ACC's account in Sonali Bank in 2012 but the anti-graft body had to give it to the government.
"The finance ministry promised us that it would return the fund by including it in our budget allocation," he told The Daily Star. But nearly eight months have gone, the ACC is yet to get the money for any corruption prevention project.
The ACC yesterday awarded 153 members of 14 corruption prevention committees of different metropolises, districts and upazilas.
The ACC chairman, commissioners, secretary and other high officials of the institution were present at the programme, in which private TV Channel i News Director Shaikh Siraj spoke as the special guest.