Following leads from newspaper reports, the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday launched preliminary probes into corruption allegations against seven ministers and lawmakers of the ninth parliament.
The ACC appointed seven investigators to probe the “discrepancies” in the wealth statements of former health minister AFM Ruhal Haque, former state minister for water resources Mahbubur Rahman, former state minister for housing and public affairs Abdul Mannan Khan, lawmakers of the 10th parliament Abdur Rahman Bodi and Aslamul Haque, and former MP Enamul Haque and Abdul Zabbar.
ACC sources said they would ask the seven politicians to respond to the allegations if their probes found irregularities in how they came by their wealth and if they had failed to disclose their actual wealth.
The ACC decided to launch the probe following newspaper reports on the wealth statements of the ministers and lawmakers which they had submitted to the Election Commission seeking candidature for the 10th parliament, said ACC Chairman Badiuzzaman.
The investigators would submit their findings to the commission within 15 working days and more investigators would be appointed if necessary.
Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said ACC's could take this probe as a challenge.
Talking to Ekattor TV, he said the ACC has the capacity to dig deeper if there was any discrepancy in the wealth statements of the MP aspirants.
As per a Supreme Court verdict in 2007, the Election Commission has to collect eight particulars about lawmaker aspirants, including their wealth statements, and make those public so that voters can know about their prospective representatives.
Former state minister for water resources Md Mahbubur Rahman Talukder had only 20 acres of agricultural land in 2008.
In the run-up to the 10th parliamentary elections, Mahbubur, who got elected unopposed from Patuakhali-4 constituency, stated that he had 2,865 acres of arable land, an astounding increase by 143 times in only five years.
According to the two wealth statements Mahbubur submitted before the Election Commission in 2008 and in December, he and his wife had their wealth increase by 18.18 times.
His previous affidavit mentioned that the couple had wealth worth about Tk 41.88 lakh. In December, they had wealth worth about Tk 7.61 crore.
The couple's annual income increased to Tk 1.74 crore from Tk 2.15 lakh from five years ago.
Former state minister for housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan, of Dhaka-1 constituency, and his wife had their wealth increase by 107 times in the last five years.
The couple had wealth worth about Tk 10.33 lakh ahead of the ninth parliamentary elections. According to the statement submitted to the Election Commission in December, they had wealth worth about Tk 11.03 crore.
He did not clarify the sources of his money elaborately.
Last night, he told Ekattor TV that he would provide details of his wealth if the anti-graft body asked him to do so.
Lawmaker Aslam, of Dhaka-14 constituency, was an individual who had studied up to class-VIII and had five acres of land in Dhaka five years ago. Now aged 52, he claims to have enrolled in a BBA programme and owns 145 acres.
An alleged land grabber, Aslam did not mention in his wealth statement submitted to the Election Commission in December that he owns a couple of power plants.
He grossly undervalued his 14,567 decimals of land (above 145 acres) and claimed that he and his wife had net assets worth only Tk 4.94 crore after deducting their bank liabilities of Tk 4.70 crore.
As per his statement for the 2008 election, the net value of the couple's assets was Tk 1.44 crore.
Talking to BBC Bangla Service, ex-minister Ruhal welcomed the probe and claimed that incorrect information was put in the affidavits and he would be proved innocent through the investigation.