In yet another controversial move, the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday cleared Awami League lawmaker Aslamul Haque of amassing any illegal wealth.
The anti-graft body is going to do the same in case of ex-health minister Ruhal Haque, although he could not explain the huge discrepancies between his wealth statement and income tax return.
The ACC opened investigations into the wealth of seven ministers and lawmakers of the last parliament, including the duo, in January following news reports that their movable and immovable properties saw an astronomical rise over the past five years.
In the wealth statement submitted to the Election Commission ahead of the January 5 election, Ruhal Haque mentioned his wife's wealth was worth Tk 7.53 crore. But he later claimed in an affidavit that it was a mistake and that his wife's wealth amounted to only Tk 45.17 lakh.
Neither the ACC nor the former minister could explain how one could mistake Tk 45.17 lakh for Tk 7.53 crore.
Similarly, lawmaker Aslamul in an affidavit claimed his income tax advisor mistakenly put his land at 141 acres instead of 1.41 acres.
The ACC has accepted their explanations and decided to give them a clean chit, sources said.
Contacted, ACC Commissioner Shahabuddin yesterday said they dropped Aslamul's matter as they found the lawmaker amassed no wealth illegally and that he had no assets beyond his known sources of income.
"We sent him a letter in this connection today [yesterday]," he said.
Aslamul confirmed receiving the latter.
ACC sources said Ruhal Haque is likely to be officially cleared in two weeks, even though the commission in its own investigation found a discrepancy of about Tk 2.5 crore between his wealth statement and tax return.
ACC investigators sought some documents from him to explain this mismatch, but he is likely to be cleared anyway.
“I've applied to the Election Commission through an affidavit seeking correction of the error in my wife's wealth statement. The commission has accepted the application,” Ruhal said.
He had no answers when asked how one could confuse between Tk 45.17 lakh and 7.53 crore.
On Wednesday, the ACC cleared all the accused in the Padma bridge corruption conspiracy case though the World Bank gave the ACC primary evidence.
The ACC also exonerated ex-communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and ex-state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury of alleged involvement in the graft conspiracy.
The ACC concluded its probe at a time when two officials of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin are being tried in a Canadian court for conspiring to bribe Abul Hossain, and several officials and individuals in Bangladesh to get the consultancy job for the project.
Earlier, Election Commissioner Abdul Mobarak told The Daily Star that it was not possible for the EC to make corrections in someone's wealth statement based on an affidavit.
ACC investigating officer Mirza Zahidul Alam, who was investigating Ruhal Haque, in his probe report claimed there was no major difference between his wealth statement and tax return.
Aslamul Haque was being investigated by ACC Deputy Director Sheikh Mesbah Uddin. In his probe report, submitted to the commission on Tuesday, he recommended concluding the investigation as he did not find any discrepancies in the lawmaker's wealth statement and income tax return.
Quoting the probe report, a top ACC official said the inquiry officer found that Aslamul owned some land that is not shown in the statement submitted to the EC. But they cannot sue him based on the findings, as there are controversies regarding the ownership of the land.
Regarding Ruhal, the ACC official said the former minister inherited huge ancestral properties and he himself amassed huge properties as an eminent physician.
According to the wealth statement submitted to the EC in 2008, Ruhal had property worth Tk 4.99 crore and his wife worth around Tk 97 lakh, which soared to Tk 9 crore and Tk 7.53 crore in last five years respectively.
Of the seven the ACC was investigating for amassing illegal wealth, three were sued last month. They are AL lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi, former state minister for water resources Mahbubur Rahman and ex-state minister for housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan.
Investigations against lawmakers Enamul Haque and Abdul Zabbar are at final stage.
If found guilty, the accused could face up to seven years in prison, fines of unspecified amount of money and confiscation of their properties.
In his 2014 wealth statement submitted to the EC, the Mirpur lawmaker undervalued his 14,567 decimals of land (more than 145 acres) and claimed that he and his wife had net assets worth Tk 4.94 crore after deducting their bank liabilities of Tk 4.7 crore.
According to his statement ahead of the 2008 election, the net value of their assets was Tk 1.44 crore.
The couple now owns two cars worth around Tk 1 crore, a flat of Tk 1.43 crore, shares worth just under Tk 1 crore, 83 tolas of gold, and cash Tk 2.71 crore, according to his statement submitted to the EC.
In 2008, he had claimed that he had 120 tolas of gold.