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Decks cleared for Khaleda Zia’s trial
Decks cleared for Khaleda Zia’s trial
A three-member bench of Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice has cleared on August 20 all obstructions for the lower court to continue trial proceedings of the Global Agro Tarade Company (GATCO) graft case against BNP Chairperson and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

On May 10, 2016 Khaleda Zia filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the High Court order that rejected her two petitions filed on August 5,2015 challenging legality of the GATCO graft case and its inclusion under the Emergency Powers Act.

 

GATCO Director Syed Ghalib Ahmad admitted before the ACC investigators that after getting the container handling contract he handed over Tk 2,19,45,091 to Ismail Hossen Saimon, son of then Water Transport Minister Lt Col (retd) Akbar Hossen (now dead) as reward for services in awarding the contract. Saimon later handed over this money to Koko.
GATCO case report: Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on September 2, 2007 filed GATCO graft case against Khaleda Zia, her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko (now dead), Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami (hanged on war crimes charges) and ten others for causing a loss of Tk 145.64 crore to the national exchequer by unlawfully awarding the contract of container handling at the Chittagong port and Dhaka’s Inland Container Depot to GATCO without following proper bidding procedure.

 

Even though GATCO failed to meet the conditions stipulated in the tender documents, it got the contract due to Khaleda Zia’s intervention in its favour. Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko influenced his mother in awarding the contract to GATCO although the agency was in no way eligible for taking part in the bidding process. The Prime Minister overruled the Cabinet Committee’s observations pointing out GATCO’s ineligibility for participating in the bidding as it had zero experience in container handling job. For this injudicious act the government had to incur a loss of Tk 145.64 crore.

 

GATCO Director Syed Ghalib Ahmad admitted before the ACC investigators that after getting the container handling contract he handed over Tk 2,19,45,091 to Ismail Hossen Saimon, son of then Water Transport Minister Lt Col (retd) Akbar Hossen (now dead) as reward for services in awarding the contract. Saimon later handed over this money to Koko.

 

A recent development has gone almost unnoticed. On August 24 the Bangladesh High Court declared two deals signed by Canadian oil and gas exploration company Niko, one with Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (BAPEX) in 2003 and the other with Petro Bangla in 2006, unlawful and ordered confiscation of Niko’s assets in Bangladesh.

 

Niko graft case report: ACC charge sheeted Khaleda Zia and ten others in Niko graft case. The case report states that the Canadian company Niko was ‘inefficient’ in technical know-how for oil exploration, but the deal in its favour was approved on monetary considerations. BAPEX and Petro Bangla experts opposed the deals but Khaleda Zia ignored opinion of the experts and took side with Niko. As a result the government had to incur a loss of Tk 13,777 crore.

 

Khaleda Zia is presently facing a couple of court cases and of these, one is Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and the other is Zia Charitable graft case.

 

Zia Orphanage Trust case report: This case was filed by ACC on July 3, 2008 charging Khaleda Zia, her elder son Tarique Rahman and four others for embezzlement of funds that came as grants for orphans from a foreign bank.

 

Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman were involved in embezzlement of Tk 2.10 crore by forming a fake trust called ‘Zia Orphanage Trust’. A grant of $ 1,255,000 equivalent to Tk 4.45 crore at that time was transferred in 1991 from United Saudi Commercial Bank to Prime Minister’s orphanage fund named Zia Orphanage Trust, a trust created by Khaleda Zia shortly before transfer of the fund as part of embezzlement scheme.

Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust were named after Khaleda Zia’s late husband and Bangladesh’s first military dictator Gen Ziaur Rahman. Khaleda Zia and her London-exiled son Tarique Rahman squandered funds from these two trusts.

 

Zia Charitable Trust case report: This trust was formed and run by Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman. There were discrepancies galore in the statement of its income and expenditure as well as functioning which showed clear violation of norms governing such a trust. It is apparent that illegally earned money of individuals and institutions constituted the main source of income of the trust. Funds drawn from the trust were utilized to meet personal and family requirements. Khaleda Zia and her aides withdrew $ 400,000 from this trust without any justifiable reason.

 

Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust were named after Khaleda Zia’s late husband and Bangladesh’s first military dictator Gen Ziaur Rahman. Khaleda Zia and her London-exiled son Tarique Rahman squandered funds from these two trusts.

 

Although Khaleda Zia alleges that the graft cases against her and her family are politically motivated, the hollowness of her claim comes to the fore as these cases were filed not by the Sheikh Hasina government, but by the previous Army-backed caretaker dispensation that launched a country-wide anti-corruption drive during its rule (2007-08). Investigations carried out by ACC in these graft cases reveal how Khaleda Zia and her family amassed a large fortune through unlawful means taking advantage of her position as Prime Minister.




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