Body to find Padma graft story makers soon
The government today informed the High Court that it has started a process to form a commission to find the people responsible for making false stories of graft in Padma bridge project.
Assistant Attorney General Titus Hillol Rema submitted a report to the High Court saying that the officials concerned of the government held a meeting on May 5 and decided that the law ministry will issue a gazette on the commission under the Inquiry Commissions Act.
After accepting the report, the High Court bench of Justice Quazi Reaza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah fixed July 3 for passing an order on this issue.
The High Court on February 15 ordered the government to explain in two weeks why it should not be directed to form an enquiry to identify the “culprits who made up false stories” about a graft conspiracy involving the project.
In a suo moto ruling, the court also asked the authorities to explain why they should not be ordered to bring those behind such stories to justice.
The World Bank, the main financier of the project, raised the allegation in 2011 and eventually withdrew from the project. Later, Canadian police sued some top officials of SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian construction firm.
The cabinet secretary, secretaries to the home and communications ministries, the Anti-Corruption Commission chairman and the Inspector General of Police were made respondents to the HC rule.
The court ordered the cabinet secretary to submit a report to it within 30 days on the steps taken in line with the rule.
In another development, the ruling Awami League led-14 party alliance has demanded that the WB pay $1 billion in compensation for causing the delay in the Padma bridge construction by raising the graft allegation.
The WB first suspended the $1.2 billion loan deal, raising the allegation.
In moves seen as government efforts to have the loan revived, Abul Hossain resigned, bridges division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan was sent to jail and PM's adviser Mashiur Rahman was sidelined, though he held his post.
Even so, the WB cancelled the credit in 2014, saying it had proof of corruption conspiracy involving Bangladesh officials, several executives of Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin and some individuals.
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pressed charges against five people, but charges against two people -- Mohammad Ismail and Abul Hasan Chowdhury -- were eventually dropped, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.
The case against the remaining three accused -- former SNC vice-president of energy and infrastructure Kevin Wallace, former SNC vice-president of international development Ramesh Shah, and Bangladeshi-Canadian businessman Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan -- ended on Friday when the Canadian court acquitted all three.
Earlier in October 2014, a Dhaka court acquitted all seven Bangladesh government officials, including Mosharraf Hossain. The same year, the Anti-Corruption Commission cleared all the seven of the graft charges.
Following the WB's loan cancellation, the PM vowed to build the bridge with government funds. The construction of the 6.2km bridge over the Padma river is now underway and is expected to be completed by next year.
At the moment, all traffic relies on ferries, which is time-consuming and sometimes risky.