PADMA PROJECT GRAFT
WB concerned about scope for probeStaff Correspondent
The World Bank’s external panel of experts assessing the Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation of the Padma Bridge project corruption on Tuesday expressed concern about the scope for a fair investigation.
‘In reviewing the first information report based on the evidence available with the ACC, we are concerned about the current scope of the investigation,’ the panel chief, Luis Moreno Ocampo, said in a statement.
The World Bank office in Dhaka released the statement on behalf of the external panel after commissioner M Shahbuddin on Monday claimed that the panel had expressed satisfaction at the first information report filed in connection with the bridge project corruption.
The Anti-Corruption Commission in December 2012 filed the FIR against seven people, excluding former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain, the prime suspect in the World Bank’s view, in the case of ‘corruption conspiracy’ in the project.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, also a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in the statement said that they had sought clarifications from the commission on some issues, most of which are linked to Abul Hossain.
Acknowledging that the FIR is an important step forward in addressing evidence of corruption under the Padma bridge project, he said that the information is essential to assess whether a complete and fair investigation is under way.
Commission officials said that the external panel had inquired about several issues including the purpose of a meeting between Abul Hossain and officials of SNC-Lavalin, a bidder of the bridge supervision work.
The panel also wanted to know whether the commission had plans to investigate the issue of 4 per cent SNC-Lavalin would pay to Abul Hossain, they said.
Ocampo said that they were waiting for a response from the commission to these queries in order to move ahead with the assessment.
The commission’s chair Ghulam Rahman said that the latest observation of the panel was to some extent true. But he did not elaborate on the matter.
In an immediate reaction, he told New Age that the external panel had wanted to help in investigating the matter properly.
Earlier in the day, the commission chair said that they would answer the quarries of the penal as soon as possible.
The World Bank’s country director Ellen Goldstein, meanwhile, on Tuesday said that they are unaware of the letter the external panel had to the commission on investigation of the bridge project scam.
The panel the World Bank appointed in keeping with an agreement with the government to overview the commission investigation of the scam was independent, she told reporter at a progaramme in the capital.
‘The external panel has not shared anything of the latter with us,’ she said adding that views expressed in the letter by the external panel were its own.
The revival of the $1.2 million World Bank loan, suspended in June 2012 because of the scam, was dependent on a positive report of the external panel that visited Dhaka twice in four months to assess the commission investigation.
Ellen Goldstein said that they were they waiting for the report of the external panel. She said that the World Bank would will issue a statement after getting the report.
The communications minister, Obaidul Quader, who was also present at the programme, hoped that uncertainties of the bridge project would go in the next month. ‘We will able to begin the construction of the bridge this year.’
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