• Saturday, October 25, 2014

Canadian cops want to question Morshed Khan, Mahmudur Rahman over Niko graft

Star Online Report
M Morshed Khan and Mahmudur Rahman
M Morshed Khan and Mahmudur Rahman

Canadian police have sought assistance of Anti-Corruption Commission to question former foreign minister M Morshed Khan and energy adviser Mahmudur Rahman in connection with Niko graft allegation.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) made the request as part of their investigation against former Canadian senator Mac Herb for allegedly taking money and other facilities from Niko to lobby for getting it Niko-Bapex deal in 2003 in Bangladesh.

The Canadian authorities sent the MLAR (Mutual Legal Assistance Request) to the attorney general requesting the ACC to play the role of a facilitator to question the duo, said ACC Commissioner Shahabuddin.

A top ACC official said the Canadian authorities sent the MLAR last January and ACC replied to Attorney General Mahbubey Alam expressing its willingness around one and a half months back.

RCMP had found allegation that Mac Herb lobbied for Niko in getting work in Bangladesh and as a senator Mac used his influence for that, Shahabuddin said.

ACC Commissioner Shahabuddin said "ACC has submitted the charge sheet in Niko graft case, making (BNP Chairperson) Khaleda Zia as prime accused. The case is now under trial."

ACC in May 2008 approved the charge sheet for awarding gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko through corruption and abuse of power.

THE DEAL

Disqualified by the government in the Second Round Block Bidding for oil and gas exploration in 1997, small Canadian oil company Niko had been trying to enter the Bangladeshi energy scene through the backdoor.

While the then energy secretary Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury promoted a Niko joint venture deal with the country's national exploration company Bapex, the Awami League government could not award the deal due to lack of legal framework.

Soon after the BNP-led alliance government came to power, Niko pushed its deal again using many BNP bigwigs and its legal adviser Moudud Ahmed.

The controversial Niko-Bapex deal was signed in 2003 although Petrobangla experts had repeatedly said it was being done violating national policy and compromising national interest.

The then prime minister Khaleda Zia held the energy minister's portfolio. In this deal signed secretly, Niko was awarded gas exploration and extraction work at an unused gas field showing it as a marginal or previously used gas field.

Any oil company seeking exploration rights to an unused field must be qualified and win it through a competitive bidding.

Published: 4:31 pm Monday, July 07, 2014

Last modified: 8:26 pm Monday, July 14, 2014

TAGS: Canada Anti-Corruption Commission Mahmudur Rahman M Morshed Khan Niko Niko graft

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