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6. Oktober 2012 6 06 /10 /Oktober /2012 22:05

The World Bank has appointed a panel of international experts to assess credibility of the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the alleged corruption in the Padma bridge project.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will head the three-member panel, said a release of the WB on Friday.

He will be assisted by Timothy Tong, a former commissioner of the Independent Commission against Corruption in Hong Kong, and Richard Alderman, a former director of the UK Serious Fraud Office.

A finance ministry official said the team will submit a report to the WB within a month.

The global lender has made the move as part of its steps to provide $1.2 billion credit for the project.

“I welcome the panel and look forward to their findings on the status and progress made by the ACC of Bangladesh in their investigation,” said WB President Jim Yong Kim in the statement.

“The Padma project is a very significant investment for the people of Bangladesh and we remain committed to ensuring the integrity of its implementation. This panel creates a unique opportunity for the people of Bangladesh to raise the bar on transparency, public accountability and governance.”

Panel chief 60-year-old Ocampo is an Argentine lawyer and the first prosecutor of the ICC. He previously worked as a prosecutor in Argentina, famously combating corruption and prosecuting human rights abuses by top military commanders in the Trial of the Juntas.

The WB panel will visit Bangladesh in the middle of this month, Ellen Goldstein, country director of the WB in Bangladesh, told reporters at a programme in Dhaka yesterday.

Also speaking to the media at the same event, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the government is fully prepared to cooperate with the WB external panel.

The announcement about the appointment of the panel comes after the WB on September 20 revived its loan deal for the project.

The WB, said the release, will finance the project only after satisfactory implementation of all the measures as well as receiving a positive report from the external panel of international experts.

The panel will share its findings with the government of Bangladesh. It will also advise the WB and the co-financiers -- Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank -- on the credibility of the government's investigations.

The finance ministry official said two WB teams will visit Bangladesh this month. One of the teams will introduce the external panel and hold meetings with the ACC and the government to decide on how the panel will function.

The second team will discuss with the co-financiers and the government about the new implementation arrangements of the project.

Meanwhile, Muhith will travel to Japan this week to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

On the fringes of the meeting, he is scheduled to meet WB Vice-president for South Asia Isabel Guerrero and its Managing Director Mulyani Indrawati.

The minister will brief them about the latest developments on the project and request them for fast-track implementation of necessary measures to make the fund available for Bangladesh.

Last week Muhith met top officials of the JICA and ADB in Dhaka. The two co-financiers have proposed some plans to the minister which he will share with the top WB officials, mentioned the ministry official.

The WB team would sign terms of reference and a letter of understanding with the government, he added.

Under the terms of reference, the ACC will have to provide the panel with full access to all investigative files, materials, documents and any other information gathered by the anti-graft watchdog's enquiry team.

As per the letter of understanding, the WB will have the right to exercise the full range of remedies, including the cancellation of the financing, if it finds that the investigation is not proceeding in a full, fair and expeditious manner at any point prior to the launching of tenders.

The WB had cancelled funding for the $2.9b project in June this year citing it had proof of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian consultancy firm and some private individuals.



Awaiting reader response.

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We have believed that there was NO corruption involved, but why Padma bridge entirely at WB's harsh terms? Who pays the lawyers' fees and many other charges? This will take a long time and we shall have no say but only say, 'Yes Sir'.

Let us wait for a few more years, save over time domestically, and by austerity, no foreign trips etc., then we can build with our OWN resources.

It now is clear that time is not on our side.

: Anonymous

The team is definitely strong and composed of real professional in the field of corruption detection process.


But is it not too high powered to iassess the performance of the ACC capacity to proble the alleged case of corruption of Padma bridge ?


Honestly speaking Bangladesh needs this type of team operation in Bangladesh as long as foreign aids are received from donors including the WB with appropriate TOR to perform its assigned task.


It is too early to comment because we have not heard the government reaction and the full Terms of References are yet to be revealed.


I am not sure whether he was the chief of the war crime crminal court or the ICC ?


One would expect him not to overlap his function with that of the war crime tribunal functioning now in Banglaadesh, but assist the ACC to conduct a neutral investigation for the judiciary to give the final judgement based on facts and figure.


If we are looking for the end game, be sure that the padma bridge fundig would not be avaiable even after the next election unlles the chapter is closed by mutual consent of the next government and the WB.


A case of this nature should take years to geta final verdict passing throgh all appeal court of justice.


Mere earmarking the alleged corrupt public servants by a creditable investigation with the help of of an overpowered team members announced by the WB is not enough to close the game.



: neutral
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