The anti-corruption watchdog is yet to finish investigation into allegation of corruption raised by the World Bank involving the troubled Padma bridge project.
“The ACC has not taken any decision yet to see if there had been corruption in the entire project. A report on only a part of the investigation [on the main construction project] has been submitted,” Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Acting Chairman Muhammad Sahabuddin has told bdnews24.com.
In an interview with bdnews24.com, he said the ACC was supposed to conduct its investigation into five phases: the construction of the main bridge, appointment of consultants, river dredging, construction of link road, and land acquisition and compensation.
“The World Bank had brought allegations of graft into the construction of the main bridge and appointment of consultant. We’ve submitted a report detailing that there had been no corruption in the first part. The investigation into the second part is underway,” he said.
The commission on Feb 2 declared that there had been no corruption in selection of pre-qualified contractors for the project.
The commission’s acting chief said it had given a copy of the report to the World Bank, which “did not dispute the findings”.
He said the ACC was awaiting information about SNC-Lavalin, a joint venture of Canada and the UK, as it is facing allegation of corruption.
“We sent Canadian police a letter through the Office of the Attorney General, seeking information about them in February,” he said. “But they have not responded yet.”
An ACC official said Tk 3 billion had been allotted for appointing consultant for the project. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc topped the short-list of five firms proposed by the evaluation committee headed by Dr Jamilur Reza Chowdhury.
The other companies were Halcrow Group of the UK, Aecom of New Zealand, Oriental Consultant Company Limited of Japan and High Point Rendel, a joint venture of the UK and the Netherlands.
The government signed agreements for $1.2 billion loan from the World Bank, for $615 million from Asian Development Bank while JICA committed $400 million and IDB $140 million.
The World Bank in October last year suspended the fund bringing the allegations of corruption.
The ACC assigned two officials to investigate the allegations. The government, however, has been rejecting the charges from the beginning.
As an alternative, the government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Malaysia to build the bridge.
Communications minister Obaidul Quader on Thursday said discussion with Malaysia was underway.
“They may propose to sign a final deal in this regard by the end of this month (May),” he said.
The bridge would be constructed on ‘Build-Operate-Transfer’ method, he added.
bdnews24.com Senior Correspondent