Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Photo: Khaleda Zia detained on corruption charges by military-backed caretaker government in 2007
SALEEM SAMAD

Former Bangladesh prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia has been accused of corruption by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Monday.

Meanwhile, Zia's elder son Tarique Rahman was indicted for money laundering. This is the first corruption case against the former prime minister since the Awami League took power in January 2009.

The ACC charged the Bangladesh Nationalists Party's (BNP) leader over a case involving land bought for a charity named after her late husband. The charges alleged she abused of her office when she was prime minister, using undisclosed income. An ACC official said that the Zia Charitable Trust in Dhaka, of which Khaleda is chairperson, did not have any known source of income for $167,112 USD.
BNP officials rejected the charges, saying they are designed to malign the family of assassinated president Ziaur Rahman.

A court in Dhaka on Monday indicted BNP's senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman and his businessman friend Giasuddin Al Mamun in a money laundering case. Rachman is currently in London, but the indictment means the trial will begin even if he does not return. He is facing 14 cases on charges of corruption and extortion against him.

According to the case filed by the ACC, Tarique and his friend allegedly channeled funds worth more than $2.73 million USD to Singapore between 2003 and 2007. The funds were allegedly accumulated from bribes by a construction company, which paid to secure a contract for an 80MW power plant.

Khaleda's youngest son, Arafat Rahman Coco, was also jailed for six years and fined $2.5 million in June for siphoning an estimated $932,000 to Singapore in a separate case.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com