ACC sues Khaleda

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s chairperson, Khaleda Zia, was sued on Monday on graft charge for using undisclosed money to buy land for a charity named after her late husband.
The Anti-Corruption Commission’s assistant director, Harunur Rashid, filed the case with the Tajgaon thana, accusing Khaleda of criminal misconduct and abusing her power as the then prime minister in creating the Shahid Ziaur Rahman Charitable Trust, accumulating money from undisclosed sources and buying 42 kathas of land at Kakrail for the Trust.
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Haris Chowdhury, his former assistant private secretary MD Ziaul Islam (Munna), now acting director of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, and Manirul Islam Khan, Dhaka city mayor’s assistant private secretary, were also accused of helping Khaleda in committing the offence.
This is the first case filed so far against Khaleda since the ruling Awami League-led alliance assumed power on 6 January, 2009.
Khaleda was accused of committing the offence under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947.
According to the law, the offence is non-bailable, and if the charge is proved Khaleda may be punished with imprisonment for seven years.
The three other accused may also face similar punishment for helping her in committing the offence.
When asked whether Khaleda would be arrested, Harunur Rashid said that would depend on the decision of the ACC.
Informed sources said that the report of the inquiry into the alleged corruption was submitted to the ACC about a month ago, and it was recommended that a case be filed.
After being tossed on the horns of a dilemma for a month, the ACC on Monday approved the filing of the case.
On 24 May, 2010, the High Court issued a rule asking the ACC to explain why its notice asking Khaleda to make a statement in connection with the probe into graft allegations regarding the charity would not be declared illegal.
The ACC is yet to reply to the rule, its lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told New Age.
The plaintiff, Harunur Rashid, said the case was filed as the High Court had not stayed the operation of the notice asking for Khaleda’s statement.
According to the complaint, Khaleda did not respond to four letters issued by the ACC asking her to make a statement about the allegations.
A 42-katha lot of land at Kakrail was bought on 19 January, 2005 for Tk 65.2 million.
But the seller, one Suraiya Khanam, received another Tk 12.5 million in addition to the amount, the complaint stated.
The extra money in the seller’s bank account came from the Trust and the Trust failed to show any valid source for that amount, it said.
According to the complaint, an account in the name of Shaheed Zia Charitable Trust was opened in the Prime Minister’s Office branch of Sonali Bank on 9 January, 2005. Around Tk 78.9 million was deposited in the account next week. The BNP contributed Tk 61.9 million, Metro Makers Developers Ltd Tk 13.5 million and Ziaul Islam Tk 2.7 million.
Apart from the money deposited by the BNP, alleged the ACC, the source of money deposited by Metro and Ziaul was not shown.
Metro’s managing director AFS Jahangir told ACC investigators that the Dhaka mayor’s APS, Manirul, used the name of his firm to deposit the money in the account.
But Monirul told the ACC that he had deposited the money given to him by Haris Chowdhury.
Ziaul said he funded the purchase of the land in response to Haris’s order.
The filing of the case against Khaleda coincided with the first-ever indictment of her eldest son, Tarique Rahman, on charge of money laundering.
Dhaka’s special judge Mohammad Mozammel Hossain on Monday framed the charges against Tarique, who is also BNP’s senior vice-chairman, in his absence and posted September 11 for the commencement of the formal trial of the case with the recording of the depositions of prosecution witnesses.
Tarique is also facing charges in two cases filed against the 21 August, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue that killed 24 persons and maimed scores of others.
Dhaka’s metropolitan magistrate, Keshob Roy Chowdhury, on August 1 asked the authorities concerned to publish advertisements in two Bangla national dailies, asking Tarique and Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Haris Chowdhury and 10 others to appear before it in connection with the August 21 grenade attack.
On July 14 the Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge, Mohammad Zahurul Haque, issued warrants for the arrest of the 12 accused, including Tarique, for the grenade attack in another case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.
The metropolitan sessions judge also asked the officers-in-charge of the concerned thanas to submit their reports by August 11.
Khaleda’s youngest son Arafat Rahman was jailed for six years and fined Tk 190.41 million on June 23 for siphoning off SGD 28,84,000 and USD 9,32,000 to Singapore.
Both Tarique and Arafat have been abroad since September 2008.
On 5 August, 2009 the ACC also pressed charges against Khaleda, Tarique and four others for embezzling Tk 2.1 crore from the Zia Orphanage Trust’s fund between June 1991 and February 2007.
Harunur Rashid, who filed the Zia Orphanage Trust case on 3 July, 2008 during the regime of the military-controlled interim government, submitted the charge-sheet.
That was the lone charge-sheet submitted against Khaleda under the present government.
Khaleda is also facing at least three more cases on graft charges — GATCO graft case, Niko graft case and Barapukuria graft case.
The trials of all the cases, except the charity trust case, have been stayed by the High Court.

-With New Age input

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