The state has moved a petition to have two officers of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police and one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the US testify in the Niko graft case against former prime minister Khaleda Zia. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told a news conference on Thursday that he attached investigation reports by the US and Canadian agencies to the petition submitted to the Ninth Special Judge’s Court of Dhaka.
The court has set Dec 9 for hearing the petition, according to Alam.
The Anti-Corruption Commission stared the case against BNP Chairperson Khaleda and 10 others in 2007 during the military-controlled caretaker government.
They stand accused of causing the exchequer a loss of around Tk 137.77 billion by abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko during her 2001-06 prime ministerial tenure.
The others accused in the case are former minister Moudud Ahmed, former state minister AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, former secretary Khandaker Shahidul Islam, former senior assistant secretary CM Yusuf Hossain, former general manager of BAPEX Mir Moinul Haque, former BAPEX secretary Md Shafiur Rahman , businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun, former president of Dhaka Club Selim Bhuiyan, and Niko vice-president for South Asia Kashem Sharif.
The special court has recently been shifted inside the old jailhouse on Nazimuddin Road where Khaleda is serving 17 years in two other corruption cases.
The attorney general said the state had also written to the FBI agent and the two Canadian police officers who had investigated the graft allegations related to Niko and Bangladesh, asking them to come to Dhaka to give statements on their reports.
The RCMP started investigating allegations of bribery against Niko in 2005, according to Alam.
He said Niko, based in Canada, had been trying to take lease of some gas fields from Bangladesh.
It had sent bribes in different ways to people in Bangladesh to get the East Chhatak field as an abandoned one though the field was full of gas, Alam said, citing the FBI and RCMP reports.
“They found during investigation how the money came to Bangladesh as bribes from Canada and different other places, especially Cayman Island, Switzerland and the US,” he said.
Alam said he had written to the RCMP and FBI to send the reports last year and they responded to his request under a mutual assistance agreement.
He also said the money had been sent mainly through businessman Mamun, a close associate of Khaledas son Tarique Rahman. The attorney general could not specify the total amount.
Tarique has been sentenced to 17 years in prison in two cases of corruption and money laundering, and to life in Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack case. He is running the BNP as its acting chief in exile from London. He left Bangladesh in 2008.
The BNP senior vice-chairman, however, is not yet an accused in the Niko graft case.
The ACC had started a case against Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, and some others in another case over the Niko deal on the same day it prosecuted Khaleda.
The High Court dismissed the case against Hasina in 2010 after the Awami League returned to power. The court had observed that the case was started to harass Hasina.
Alam said it would not be right for him to comment whether the FBI and RCMP had investigated Hasina as well over the Niko scam.