The Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to trace any of those accused in the case of “corruption conspiracy” in appointing a Canadian consultancy firm for the USD 2.9 billion Padma Bridge project in six days following filing of the first information report (FIR) against seven people, according to ACC sources.
The commission is apparently showing its reluctance to arrest the accused living in the country after filing of separate petitions by the two prime accused seeking interim anticipatory bails before the High Court.
“We have launched several drives at different places in the city to hunt the accused but whereabouts of none of them could be traced ,” said a member of the investigation team.
The ACC filed the case against seven persons including the former Bridge Division Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Superintendent Engineer Kazi M Ferdous for their alleged involvement in corruption conspiracy to bribe for appointing the Padma Bridge project consultant.
The other accused in the case are Executive Engineer Riaz Ahmed Jaber, Bangladesh agent of SNC-Lavalin Golam Mostafa and three SNC-Lavalin executives—Ramesh Saha, Kelvin Wallace and Mohammad Ismail–are living in Canada.
Former minister for communications Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury were kept in the list of suspects as the commission didn’t find any circumstantial evidence against them.
The commission formed a four-member probe committee headed by ACC deputy director Abdullah Al Zahid on December 18 to investigate the case of Padma bridge scam. ACC director Moniruzzaman was made coordinator of the committee.
ACC director Moniruzzaman told reporters that the investigation team couldn’t arrest any of the accused till Saturday evening.
Asked if the commission was continuing raids to arrest the Padma bridge scam accused, he said, “We have to wait for the judgements of the bail petitions to take our next action.”
He said the ACC counsels have been asked for taking lawful measures to deal with the matter accordingly.
When contacted ACC deputy director Abdullah Al Zahid, the convenor of the investigation team, said they would hold a meeting on Sunday to take decision on the matter of seizing of records and files of the accused and questioning of the witnesses in the case.
Asked whether there is possibility to include the two former ministers in the accused list from the suspects’ one, he said decision in this regard would be taken after receiving necessary documents for which the commission sent mutual legal assistance request (MLAR) to the Canadian authorities.
“We have some allegations against both of them (two ministers) but we do not have any documentary evidence,” he added.
After about one year enquiry, Abdullah Al Zahid filed FIR against them with Banani Police Station in the city on December 17.
The funding for the Padma bride is depends on carrying out a fair investigation into the alleged corruption conspiracy in the Padma bridge project.
The commission has already sent relevant documents to the World Bank local office and its headquarter in the USA.
However, the World Bank or its external panel of anti-corruption experts is yet to issue any statement on their position after the commission has filed a case against seven persons.
On July 29, the WB had cancelled its loan agreement saying it had credible evidence of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials and executives of a Canadian firm, and some private individuals.
On September 21, the WB revised its fund cancellation decision after an agreement with the government to carry out a fair investigation into the allegation of corruption in the Padma bridge project.
The WB external experts led by Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) visited Dhaka for twice on October 14 and December 2 to discuss and evaluate the progress of the ACC investigation into the matter.