Engineer accused in Padma bridge graft jailed

Engineer accused in Padma bridge graft jailed

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A Dhaka court on Wednesday ordered that an Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways Department be sent to jail after his surrender in connection with a ‘corruption conspiracy’ involving the Padma bridge.

Reaz Ahmed Zaber appeared before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Mostafa Shahriar Khan complying with a High Court directive. His going to jail is pending further legal procedures.

Another six officials stand accused of conspiracy in an attempted bribery case involving the project.

On Wednesday, Zaber sought bail but the magistrate rejected the plea, ACC lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajol told bdnews24.com.

Mirza Zahidul Alam, a Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), placed a 10-day remand prayer for Zaber, arguing that he smuggled out important information to the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin despite holding an important government office.

The court is set to hear the remand prayer on Mar 24.

The High Court on March 6 denied Zaber anticipatory bail, asking him to surrender before the Court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

The case against him and six others were filed at the Banani Police Station on Dec 17.

The others are former Secretary to the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Superintendent Engineer of Bangladesh Bridge Authority Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, Deputy Managing Director of Engineering and Planning Consultant, SNC Lavalin’s local agent, Mohammad Mostafa and SNC Lavalin officials Mohammad Ismail, Ramesh Shah and Kevin Wales.

The World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion funding for the project on June 29 this year, saying it had proof of a “corruption conspiracy” involving Bangladeshi officials and executives of the Canadian company and some other people.

Responding to a request by Bangladesh government, the Bank on September 21 decided to revive the loan after the government agreed to the World Bank’s terms and conditions.

But the government on January 31 withdrew its request for loan.

According to media reports, former Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain was also part of the alleged corruption conspiracy, but he denied the allegations.

SNC Lavalin official Ramesh Shah had reportedly mentioned in his diary that Abul Hossain was to get 4 percent of Tk 38 crore in bribe from the supervision work money. bdnews24.com

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