Former judge Motahar Hossain, who had acquitted BNP Senior Vice-chairman Tarique Rahman in a money laundering case, left the country before the Anti-Corruption Commission began looking into the graft allegations against him.
Motahar left for Malaysia nearly two weeks before the ACC began the investigation on January 20, said Deputy Director of the graft watchdog Harun-ur-Rashid, who has been leading the probe.
The ACC official, however, could not say whether Motahar had left the country for good or on a visit for medical or any other purpose.
The three-member investigation team came to know about the former judge's present abode while scrutinising his travel documents, sources in the ACC told The Daily Star yesterday.
Serving as a judge of a special tribunal, Motahar in November last year dropped the charges against Tarique, elder son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, of involvement in the laundering of Tk 20.41 crore to Singapore.
The ACC began the inquiry on receiving graft allegations against the retired judge, in the first week of this month, of amassing huge movable and immovable wealth illegally and laundering money abroad during his service term, Harun-ur-Rashid said.
At the same time it instructed the Special Branch of police and the immigration authorities not to let Motahar leave the country.
Meanwhile, the ACC interrogated two stenographers of two Dhaka courts to get information about his wealth, said Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, public relation officer of the ACC.
Abul Hossain of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 and Nurul Islam Mollah of the Special Judges Court-3 in Dhaka were quizzed from 9:00am to 12:30pm yesterday at the ACC's Segunbagicha office. Motahar had served as a judge at these courts.
Harun declined to give the findings of the interrogation "for the sake of investigation".
Badal Dewan, who had worked as a bodyguard of the ex-judge, and driver Sohrab Hossain will be quizzed on January 27, Pranab added.
Motahar, who retired in December, had sentenced Tarique's friend and business partner Giasuddin Al Mamun to seven years in prison and fined him Tk 40 crore as he was found guilty of laundering the amount.
Tarique spent a portion of Tk 20.41 crore from Mamun's Singapore account, which he mentioned in his wealth statement and therefore he could not be charged, Motahar said in the judgement.
"He [Tarique] did not conceal any information of this transaction in his wealth statement submitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission on June 7, 2007. So, the charges against him could not be brought under the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2002. Therefore, he is acquitted," he said during the pronouncement of the judgment.