Tuesday, October 3, 2023

JS panel wants Matin to be sued for shady deal in CPA

A parliamentary panel on Thursday recommended legal measures against a former adviser to the military-backed interim government, MA Matin, and eight shipping ministry officials for their alleged involvement in hastily awarding a contract for container handling at Chittagong Port to an obscure company in a fishy manner.
‘We have suggested that cases be filed against the former adviser and a few other officials who were involved in the shady deal. Administrative measures were also suggested against the officials concerned,’ said Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the shipping ministry.
The committee has also suggested departmental action against eight officials including former shipping secretary Motahar Hossain, now a member of the Privatisation Commission, and RU Ahmed, a senior official of the Chittagong Port Authority.
The committee’s chairman said the suggestions will shortly be sent to the ministry with a request to the Anti-Corruption Commission to charge the former adviser and the officials for alleged graft.
The chairman did not disclose names of the officials to be taken to task, saying that they would be made public at the committee’s next meeting.
The committee received a report by a subcommittee which had investigated the alleged corruption by the former shipping adviser, Matin, who was also in charge of an anti-graft taskforce during the two-year rule of military-backed interim regime.
The corruption-busting taskforce detained as many as 200 leading politicians, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia, for their alleged corruption.
Matin, who had talked tall against corruption during the interim administration’s regime, was accused by the parliamentary committee of hastily awarding a deal to a little known company for container handling at Chittagong Port on January 6, the day an elected government took office.
He was also accused of unilaterally increasing the age ceiling of the pilots at the Chittagong Port from 57 to 60 without consulting the establishment and the finance ministries.
A four-member parliamentary subcommittee was assigned on June 15 to investigate the allegations against the retired Major General who was also in charge of the ministries of home affairs and liberation war affairs during the interim government’s regime.
The subcommittee, headed by Awami League lawmaker Shah Alam, in its report submitted to the main committee on Thursday said that the adviser and a few top officials of the shipping ministry were involved in awarding the container handling deal to Ishaque Brothers in violation of the rules.
The deal caused an estimated loss of about Tk 12 crore to the public exchequer, said a member of the subcommittee.
He said that the deal could be completed so hastily because the adviser and ministry’s senior officials worked for it even during the weekly holidays. The bidding documents were transported from and to Dhaka by air instead of normal transport.
The final nod from the shipping adviser came on January 6, when the members of the Awami League-led alliance Cabinet were taking oath to form the new government.
The then shipping secretary, Motahar Hossain, who was summoned before the subcommittee on July 26, admitted that the process for awarding the container handling deal was seriously flawed. Another junior officer of the ministry said that he was forced to sign the document.
‘As the adviser interfered with the tender process and caused loss of public money, we have suggested legal action against him,’ said the committee’s chairman, adding that the tender was not invited properly in line with the government’s rules and the port authority did not hold any meeting of its board before awarding the contract.
When he was asked why the adviser’s version of the events was not taken into consideration, Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury said that Matin would get the chance for defending himself in the court once the case is filed.
‘The court will determine whether he was wrong or right. The evidence says he did the wrong thing, and he has to prove that he didn’t in the court,’ he said.
Matin was the first among three advisers to the interim administration to be accused of graft. Former public works adviser Mainul Hossein and former local government adviser Anwarul Iqbal have also been accused of corruption by the concerned parliamentary watchdogs.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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