What is corruption?

This question has become a crucial one these days after the revealation of Padma Bridge “corruption conspiracy” by a Canadian media in August last year on a raid in SNC Lavalin office over bribing for the bridge project upon a call from the World Bank, the lead financier of the country’s largest bridge.

Soon the World Bank came up with a report on the matter. But the government has ever since denied the allegation saying “no transaction, no corruption”, “it’s a conspiracy by vested quarters eg Dr Yunus”, “Abul is a patriot”, “WB itself is corrupt” while the three top suspects — PM’s advisor Mashiur Rahman, minister Syed Abul Hossain and secretary Mosharraf Hossain — have been claiming themselves “as clean as holy”.

Mosharraf HossainMeanwhile, the WB submitted the second report in April and asked the govt to take action against the accused — at least 10 people.

But the govt kept denying and dodging taking up punitive measures until the last week of June this year when the WB cancelled the loan agreement with Bangladesh.


Cartoon: Sadat/The Daily Star
Cartoon: Sadat/The Daily Star

The immediate reaction was not praiseworthy — Muhith said it was the outgoing chief’s personal decision, Hasina slammed the WB in parliament citing their ill-motivated prescriptions added with loan as conditions. She also declared that the bridge would be built by own funds — from budget and people — or Malaysian money, whatever, anyhow. She, however, changed her minds few months later, but didn’t explain why!

In the meantime, Muhith and PM’s advisor Gowher Rizvi were discussing the matter with the WB and other financiers — JICA, ADB, IDB — to revive the loan agreement and were bargaining over the ‘punitive action’ issue.

Meanwhile, the accused were still claiming that they were clean and everyone claimed there were “no corruption” in the project since there was no transaction made and the ACC said there was no tangible evidence provided by the WB — a view the anti-graft body ACC made in February declaring Abul “clean“.

The toothless ACC has showed its “efforts against corruption” by asking over 30 suspects warmly to appear at its office for some chitchats and for giving them a chance for defending themselves.

But the commission couldn’t be stricter due to pressure, I understand, but I wonder, the chairman, Ghulam Rahman, hasn’t resigned yet.

The dubious role of the govt high-ups has harmed the compromise process maintained by the finance minister initiated just after the annulment of the agreement that hit the ruling party badly only to worsen its image at home and abroad.

So the AL has always tried to establish the “conspiracy theory“.

Even on Wednesday, Muhith said there was “no corruption in the project” and so the two former ministers — Syed Abul and Abul Hossain Chowdhury — were not implicated in the case filed by the ACC a couple of days ago against 7 persons including Mosharraf and 2 foreigners. Muhith said it was not “corruption” because the ministers just held talks with the Lavalin agents and it couldn’t be labelled as “corruption in Bangladesh”!

The same day, PM said there have been conspiracy against the govt to malign its successes through some acts!

Well! What’s “corruption“, btw?

The ACC on Thursday said justice would be ensured in their investigation and the trial, and that the location of the 7 officials must be identified as they have gone into hiding through the Interpol. The two ministers are under watch as their names are mentioned in the case as “suspects in a corruption conspiracy”.

moshiurBtw, where’s PM’s advisor Mashiur Rahman? Oh, he’s on leave. The ACC couldn’t prove his “direct link” with the “conspiracy”. Will the WB be happy with this much?

How about Syed Abul’s SAHCO Enterprise officials?

NOTE: Speaker Abdul Hamid on Wednesday said the country could build one Padma Bridge every year with the “graft money”!!!