PADMA BRIDGE SCAM
Abul Hasan under ACC surveillanceStaff Correspondent
Former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury has been under strong surveillance of the Anti-Corruption Commission after he was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, ACC commissioner M Sahabuddin told reporters on Thursday.
He said that the commission would include his Abul Hasan’s name in charge sheet if the probe team found him involved in the ‘corruption conspiracy’ in the Padma Bridge project.
‘The progresses made by Royal Canadian Mounted Police and its framing of charges will help our investigation,’ he told reporters at his office at the ACC headquarters.
He said that the commission had filed case against Kevin Wallace, former senior vice-president of SNC-Lavalin International Inc and the RCMP had also framed charge against him; so it had been proved that the commission had been on the right track.
Besides, on an official tour of Rangpur, ACC chairman M Badiuzzman said that the commission had not relieved former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain of the Padma Bridge ‘corruption conspiracy’ case.
He said that the commission would take a decision
on Abul Hossain after completing the ongoing investigation.
Abul Hasan, however, alleged that the RCMP had included his name in their charge list to harm his political reputation.
‘I had met with Kavin Wallace at the request of my relative and I was trying to create a level playing field at the tender biding stage,’ he told reporters at his Gulshan residence.
According to the Canadian CBC News, the RCMP has charged a former senior executive of SNC-Lavalin and two influential Bangladeshi businessmen and lobbyists with bribery related to the Montreal-based engineering giant’s failed bid to oversee the building of the $3-billion Padma Bridge in Bangladesh.
The RCMP announced Wednesday they had laid bribery charges under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act against Canadian Kevin Wallace, former senior vice-president of SNC-Lavalin International Inc, a division based in Oakville, Ont., that had recently been disbanded. Also charged are Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan, a Canadian citizen with business ties in Bangladesh, and Abul Hasan Chowdhury a prominent lobbyist in Bangladesh.
Two lower-level SNC-Lavalin employees, Mohammad Ismail and Ramesh Shah, are already awaiting trial in Toronto facing similar allegations that they had conspired to pay bribes to help SNC-Lavalin win a supervising contract worth $50 million for the Padma Bridge project.
The scandal prompted an investigation by the World Bank, a major fund provider, which withdrew its support and earlier this year sanctioned SNC-Lavalin, citing misconduct on projects in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The bank barred the firm from bidding on its development projects for a decade after SNC agreed not to contest or dispute the sanctions.
Last spring, an investigation by CBC News and the Globe and Mail revealed that for years, Wallace’s division, SLII, used a secret internal code ‘PCC’ or ‘CC’ to account for hidden so-called ‘project consultancy costs’ on projects outside of Bangladesh, in Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, India and Kazakhstan.
Wallace’s signature appears on many of the SNC-Lavalin cheques labelled ‘PCC’ or ‘CC’ that were obtained by CBC News, for projects across India and Asia.
‘PCC, they interchangeably used the word,’ Mohammad Ismail, a former SNC-Lavalin engineer told CBC News in an exclusive interview last spring.
‘Sometimes it was “project consultancy cost”, sometimes “project commercial cost”, but [the]… fact is the intention is [a] bribe.’
Ismail is one of the men already accused of attempted bribery in Bangladesh and awaits trial in Toronto. The evidence in his case is covered by a publication ban. However, he agreed to comment on the internal SNC-Lavalin documents from other countries that were not before the courts.
The ACC on December 17, 2012 filed the case of ‘conspiracy for corruption in the Padma Bridge project’ against seven people, including the three Canadian nationals, dropping former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury from its list of suspects.
The rest of the accused are Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Bangladesh Bridge Authority superintendent engineer Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, Roads and Highways Department executive engineer Riaz Ahmad Jaber, and Engineering Planners Consultant Ltd deputy managing director Mohammad Mostafa.
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