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Monday, December 17, 2012

[] Re: digit-AL corruption: Padma bridge

digit-AL corruption: 7 sued , Abuls dropped

ACC filed a case against seven people excluding the names of Syed Abul Hossain and Abul Hasan Chowdhury for their alleged roles in graft conspiracy in Padma bridge project.Former secretary of the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and three officials of Canadian consultancy firm SNC Lavalin -- Ramesh, Mohammad Ismail and Kevin Walid-- were made accused in the case which was filed with Banani Police Station.

On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM, Isha Khan <> wrote:

4% was for Abul

Mentions Lavalin official's diary; ACC team files Padma graft conspiracy probe report; 7 officials accused, but Abul left out

An Anti-Corruption Commission enquiry team in its final report has recommended filing case against seven persons, excluding former minister Syed Abul Hossain, for corruption conspiracy in the Padma bridge project.

However, the report, submitted yesterday, says the ACC high-ups should decide on whether Abul Hossain would be sued.

The ACC bosses are split over implicating the ex-minister although the World Bank provided the anti-graft body with "evidence of corruption" against him.

Ramesh Shah, arrested official of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, in his diary had mentioned Abul as the recipient of 4 percent out of 10pc bribe from the sum fixed for bridge supervision work, sources say.

The 10pc is equivalent to Tk 38 crore.

The seven include former Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Lavalin officials Ramesh, Mohammad Ismail and Kevin Wales.

The rest are Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, ex-secretary of tender evaluation committee for the bridge construction; Executive Engineer of Roads and Highway Department Reaz Ahmed Zaber and Lavalin's local agent Mohammad Mostofa.

On Tuesday, the ACC team submitted its draft report where it had named Syed Abul Hossain, former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury and businessman Nixon Chowdhury, brother of Ruling Awami League Whip Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury.

The trio were dropped in the final report because the team has no "hard evidence" against them, added the sources.

The World Bank's external panel, which visited the ACC for the second time from December 2 to 5, left Dhaka unhappy over the omission of Syed Abul Hossain's name as a top corruption suspect in the project.

Two high-ups and a legal adviser of the graft watchdog argued desperately with the WB's external panel about why the name of Abul Hossain would not be dropped, a competent ACC source said.

A high ACC official who opposed Abul Hossain's inclusion told The Daily Star that it was true Ramesh mentioned 4 percent against the ex-minister's name. But the Lavalin official did not put any date and this indicates the bribe was not given yet.

Ramesh might have decided to offer the bribe to Abul. But the ex-minister might not have been aware of it and in that sense the ACC cannot blame him, the official added.

"So far, we didn't find any proof in favour of the allegation against Abul Hossain."

But while Abul was the communications minister, the Bridges Division repeatedly dissolved the tender evaluation committee to favour Lavalin. In this regard, the ACC official noted that the investigators had not found any proof in Abul's role in dissolving or forming the committees.

Another official said the ACC needs not defend Abul so much. The ex- minister should be implicated as his name has surfaced. If he can prove his innocence, the court will acquit him.

Yesterday, the enquiry report was submitted to ACC Director General Khondakar Muhammad Aminur Rahman, who will now forward it to legal advisers.

Once the advisers send back the report along with their opinions, the DG will submit it to the chairman and two commissioners. It might take a day or two.

The ACC launched the enquiry in September last year after the WB raised corruption allegations in the project.

ACC sources say unless the anti-graft body files a First Information Report (FIR), it cannot launch a formal investigation as expected by the global lender.

The WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding on June 29, saying it had proof of a "corruption conspiracy" involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.

The global lender on September 21 decided to revive the loan after the Bangladesh government agreed to the WB's terms and conditions.

On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM, Isha Khan <> wrote:
digit-AL corruption: ACC Findings in short

Canadian company SNC Lavalin, which did not even qualify, was selected as the number one bidder in the tender for supervising Padma bridge construction through a corruption conspiracy by several government officials and powerful individuals, says the ACC enquiry report.

In order to make sure that Lavalin gets the job, the Bridges Division dissolved the tender evaluation committee thrice and formed a fourth one headed by Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury without giving it full technical and financial information about the bidders.

The division wasted 22 months in the process, which the World Bank deems as suspicious and part of a corruption conspiracy.

The ACC investigators did not recommend suing ex-communications minister Syed Abul Hossain but they mentioned that as a minister he could not shrug off the responsibility for the corruption conspiracy.

"But to prove allegations against him in the court, solid evidence is needed," said the ACC team in its enquiry report on corruption allegations in the $2.9 billion project.

According to the World Bank note, several individuals, including Abul Hossain, sought from SNC Lavalin 10 percent of $50 million (about Tk 38 crore) to help it qualify as the top bidder in the tender for supervising the bridge's construction.

The ACC prepared its report based on the interrogation of 29 people, and opinions from legal experts.

The ACC investigators recently submitted a report with findings on 10 people, including Abul Hossain, who was at the helm of the communication ministry, the parent body of the Bridges Division.

The commission is now making preparations for further enquiry against 15 persons, including Abul Hossain and Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman.

The report mentioned that ACC lawyer Anisul Haque gave the opinion that even if no evidence of corruption conspiracy is found against them, they can be charged with misuse of power.

The report exempted Mashiur on the basis of his statement to the ACC that if there were any irregularities in the tender, they had taken place before he joined as the Integrity Adviser of Padma bridge project. Though his name was mentioned in a diary of SNC Lavalin official Ramesh Saha, he claimed he had never met any Lavalin official.

The report said evidence of corruption conspiracy was found against seven people -- the secretary of the Bridges Division, three other government officials and three SNC Lavalin officials.


SYED ABUL HOSSAIN: his name was mentioned in Ramesh's diary in which the SNC Lavalin official wrote about "the bribe". The ACC could not find any trace of monetary transactions involving Abul. But the World Bank has filed complaint against him. None of the people quizzed by the ACC named Abul directly but they gave indications of his involvement. Solid evidence must be collected if he is to be sued.

ABUL HASAN CHOWDHURY: the former foreign minister, who does not hold any post in the incumbent government, regularly visited the Bridges Division. He introduced two Lavalin officials to Abul Hossain, who claimed that Chowdhury lobbied for Lavalin. But there is no documentary evidence of it. His name was also mentioned in Ramesh's diary.

NIXON CHOWDHURY: He is brother of parliament whip Nure Alam Chowdhury. He lobbied for Lavalin at the Bridges Division. His name was also mentioned in Ramesh's diary but not much evidence was found against him.

MOSHARRAF HOSSAIN BHUIYAN: The ACC report recommended suing the former secretary of the Bridges Division, as he is directly responsible for dissolving the tender evaluation committee four times. He tried his best to ensure that Lavalin gets the job. At least four persons, including ex-director of the bridge project Rafiqul Islam gave statements against him and said Lavalin was not qualified for the bridge consultancy job, yet the evaluation committee was formed four times to give the job to that company. Several government officials and individuals received help from Bhuiyan and hid information from the last committee headed by Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury. Ramesh's diary mentions Bhuiyan.

KAZI FERDOUS: the member secretary of tender evaluation committee was involved in leaking the committee's confidential information to vested interests to favour Lavalin. When the committee led by Jamilur Reza was formed, he confused the committee with wrong information about Halcrow, considered as the top bidder.

REAZ ZABER: the member of tender committee and executive engineer of roads and highways also served Lavalin's interests.

MD MOSTAFA: the local agent of SNC Lavalin facilitated meetings between Lavalin officials and minister and secretaries.

THREE FOREIGN OFFICIALS OF LAVALIN: Ramesh, Ismail and Kevin have privately met with minister, secretary and influential groups inside and outside the government. They have tried to bag the job by offering financial benefits. The Canadian court is now trying Ramesh and Ismail. Ramesh maintained a diary in which he wrote the names of several powerful people in Bangladesh. He referred to the minister as "min" or the secretary as "sec" or the project director as "PD". He also mentioned which person would get what share of bribe. Ismail, on the other hand, maintained communication with the Bangladeshi officials.

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