All Padma bridge graft accused acquitted
A Dhaka court today acquitted all the seven government officials including former bridges division secretary Mosharraf Hossain who were accused of corruption in the Padma bridge project, 53 days after Anti-Corruption Commission cleared them of the graft charges.
Acting on the final report placed by the ACC, Judge MD Zahirul Haque of the Senior Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka passed the ruling this morning.
Earlier on September 14, Mirza Jahidul Alam, ACC deputy director and the investigation officer of the case, submitted the final report to the court saying the charges could not be proved against the accused.
On September 3 this year, the ACC, in a controversial move, cleared all accused in the Padma bridge corruption conspiracy case and also exonerated former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury though their names came in the scam.
On June 29, 2012, the WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding for the bridge project, saying it had proof of a "corruption conspiracy" involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.
The commission on December 17 of the same year filed the Padma bridge graft case with Banani Police Station, accusing Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf, Superintendent Engineer of Bangladesh Bridge Authority Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways Department Reaz Ahmed Zaber, and former local agent of SNC Lavalin Mohammad Mostofa and its ex-officials Mohammad Ismail, Ramesh Shah and Kevin Wales.
The anti-graft body, however, did not include the names of Abul Hossain and Abul Hasan in the case.
According to the case statement, Mosharraf dissolved the evaluation committee four times between January and June 2010 in efforts to award the consultancy job to the company of his choice.
In violation of the WB's Consulting Services Manual 2006, he became the head of the fourth evaluation committee. The manual states that all members of such a committee should have 10 years' experience in the relevant field, which the secretary lacked.
He along with the six accused hatched the conspiracy, says the case statement. They provided SNC Lavalin with secret information regarding the tender and finally managed to award the job to SNC Lavalin.
Abul Hossain held several meetings with SNC Lavalin officials, which were arranged by Abul Hasan.