ACC clears 1,216 graft cases in a year: Ruling party men enjoy favour, BNP men suffer

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The Anti-Corruption Commission last year gave clean chits to suspects in 1,216 corruption cases and complaints, mostly politicians and the government high officials, after probing allegations of their involvement in embezzlement and other irregularities. The commission filed 634 cases and submitted charge-sheets against the suspects during a period when a large number of pro-opposition leaders were accused, according to the annual report 2014. In 2014, the commission received a total of 3,913 corruption allegations for inquiry where inquiries in 1,169 cases were completed. Three-hundred and five cases were filed in connection with corruption, while suspects in 876 allegations got clean chits. During the time, the commission investigated a total of 2,574 cases where 667 investigations were completed. Among them, the commission submitted charge-sheets in 329 cases and filed final reports in 340 cases relieving the accused of the charges. In 2014, the commission came under fire from various quarters after giving clean chits to all local and foreign accused along with two suspects – both of them former ministers – in the much-talked about Padma Bridge corruption conspiracy case. Transparency International Bangladesh member M Hafizuddin Khan said that the commission’s activities were questionable and it seemed the commission was not in the right direction. ‘It would appear the commission is politically motivated and as a result, mainly politicians and government officials are enjoying its favour,’ he claimed. The commission also relieved ruling party lawmaker Aslamul Haque Aslam and former Jatiya Party lawmaker Abdul Jabbar of charges of accumulating illegal wealth during the last five years of Awami League government. In the year, the commission also relieved some other influential politicians of the ruling party and high officials of the government of corruption allegations, including former AL lawmaker HBM Iqbal, former environment and forests minister Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, now deputy leader of Jatiya Sangsad, former state minister for shipping Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, now disaster management and relief minister, former post and telecommunications minister Mohammad Nasim, now health and family welfare minister, and former director of National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital Syed Modasser Ali, also former health and family affairs adviser to prime minister Sheikh Hasina. During the same period, the commission gave clean chits to a large number of government officials, including former Bangladesh ambassador to the Philippines Majeda Rafiqun Nessa, now director general of the foreign ministry, Petrobangla general manager (administration) Ayub Khan Chowdhury, Bangladesh Railway’s former director general M Abu Taher, National Board of Revenue’s tax commissioner Emdadul Haque and former police super of Criminal Investigation Department M Rafiqul Islam. On the other hand, the commission launched several inquiries against BNP leaders. It also reported that the commission has submitted charge sheets to the court against some senior leaders of the BNP. In one instance, the commission is preparing to prosecute 35 former BNP ministers and lawmakers of the 8th parliament on charge of hiding information in their affidavits submitted in the Election Commission in 2008, an ACC official told New Age. He said that 38 former BNP lawmakers and ministers, including the 35, in their affidavits submitted to the Election Commission along with their nominations for the 2008 general election hid information about plots in Banani, Purbachal and Uttara allotted to them during their 2001-2006 tenure. Three people were dropped from the list as two have already died and one has been missing for over three years. The 35 others are Tariqul Islam, Abdullah Al Noman, Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, Barkatullah Bulu, Rezaul Karim, Alamgir Kabir, Lutfar Rahman Khan Azad, ANM Ehsanul Haque Milon, Selima Rahman, Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, Asadul Habib Dulu, Akhtar Hamid Siddiqui, Shahidul Alam Talukder, Fazlur Rahman, Shahidul Islam, Shajahan Chowdhury, Majibur Rahman Manju, Nazim Uddin Alam, AKM Fazlul Haque Milon, Moazzem Hossain Alal, Abdul Hai, Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, Kabir Hossain and Hafiz Ibrahim. The commission, however, would take no action against Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Shamsuddin Ahmed Ishak, as they have already died and Ilias Ali, who has been missing for over three years, its official said. In a statement, Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Monday claimed that the ACC has failed to be non-partisan. ‘The commission is giving clean chits to the ruling party men one after another, on the other hand, it submitting charge sheets against BNP leaders,’ it said. The commission chairman M Badiuzzaman said the commission dropping charges or giving clean chits to people after probes was routine work of the commission. ‘This is nothing alarming,’ he said, adding, ‘we can drop an inquiry or investigation if no corruption evidence is found by our officers.’ He said that the commission does not work following instructions of any political quarter.

Source: New Age