12:00 AM, December 02, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 02, 2012

WB panel to track progress in Padma bridge probe

External team arrives in Dhaka for the second time

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Rejaul Karim Byron

An external panel of the World Bank will start talks with the Anti-Corruption Commission from today to know the progress the anti-graft watchdog made in investigating the evidence of corruption in the Padma bridge project.
The panel will hold several meetings with the anti-graft body till December 6, said an ACC official.
A finance ministry official said the team is also scheduled to meet Finance Minister AMA Muhith today.
Earlier the external panel came to Dhaka on October 14 for the first time.
ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman said they will meet with the WB external panel today afternoon when their working programme will be chalked out.
Rahman said, “In the meetings we will present the progress in our investigation into the graft allegations and our future plans.”
Chairman of the external panel former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo reached Dhaka yesterday afternoon.
The other two panel members are Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission against Corruption of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain's Serious Fraud Office.
In a statement on November 28, WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein said, “The external panel of internationally-recognised experts will advise the World Bank and co-financiers on the adequacy of the government's investigation.”
The finance ministry official said, whether the financiers, including the WB, will finally provide fund to the Padma bridge project depends on the report of the external panel. Already on November 13, the WB sent a third report to the ACC on corruption evidence.
The ACC official said the third report contained detailed evidence of graft against the public and private officials concerned.
The official said the WB prepared the third report based on information received from the Canadian government and other sources.
The third report also mentions the names of those accused in the earlier report but the latter contains more evidence, the official said.
Prior to the panel's second visit to Dhaka, the co-financiers met in Manila for preliminary discussions on revising the project implementation arrangements from November 28 to 30.
The WB said adequate progress in investigating the corruption evidence is necessary to allow project implementation to move forward.
The original $1.2 billion WB credit for the bridge was cancelled on June 29 due to an insufficient response by Bangladeshi authorities to evidence of a conspiracy of corruption involving senior public officials.
Subsequently, additional actions were undertaken, and on September 20 the government agreed to go by four conditions that also include proper investigation into the allegations.

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