By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka
The Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday filed a plea with the Supreme Court, challenging the acquittal of opposition BNP leader Tarique Rahman by a lower court in a money laundering case.
A special judge’s court on November 17, 2013, acquitted the BNP senior vice-chairman in the case, involving more than 200mn taka.
ACC filed the money laundering case against Tarique and others on December 5, 2013 with the High Court. On January 19, 2014, the High Court asked the accused to surrender before the trial court.
Earlier a Dhaka court cleared Tarique, the son of former prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, and awarded his friend Giasuddin Al Mamun seven years in jail in a money laundering case
involving 200mn taka.
Mamun, who remains behind bar since March 26, 2007, was present in the court during the verdict delivery.
Tarique, who went to the United Kingdom in September 2008 for treatment, was
declared fugitive in the case.
It was the first judgment in the 16 cases Tarique, who was arrested in 2007 during an anti-graft crackdown by the military-backed caretaker government, was facing. He has secured bail in other cases.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case against Tarique and Mamun on October 26, 2009, on charge of siphoning off 200mn taka to Singapore between 2003 and 2007.
After investigation, the ACC pressed charges against the duo on July 6, 2010. On August 8 the next year, the court issued an arrest warrant against Tarique.
The trial of the case began on September 11, 2011.
On May 26, 2012, the same court cleared the way for the ACC to seek the help of Interpol in arresting Tarique.
The court had recorded statements of 13 prosecution witnesses including the complainant and an official of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
On November 16, 2011 Debra Laprevotte, a supervisory special agent of the FBI, testified in the money-laundering case.
The agent said Tarique laundered money using Mamun’s account in a Singapore bank.
She narrated before a Dhaka court how she had tracked down the money allegedly laundered by Tarique and Mamun to a bank account in Singapore.
While delivering the judgement, Judge Motahar Hossain said Mamun demanded over 200mn taka from Khadiza Islam, proprietor of Nirman Constructions at Banani, in 2003 assuring her to help in getting the work order for an 80-megawatt power plant at Tongi.
Later, he forcefully took 200mn taka from Khadiza,
according to the court.
After paying Mamun 500,000 taka, Khadiza opened an account in Citibank NA in Singapore, as wished by the convict, and deposited $750,000 on different dates, the judge added.
Though Mamun had no consultancy firm, he claimed during the trial that he received the money as consultancy fee, said the court.
Since Mamun has no such firm, he did not take the money with honest intent and the government was even in dark about the amount, the court said, announcing Mamun guilty of
siphoning off the money.
The court also fined Mamun 400mn taka for his involvement with the crime.
Pointing out that the government brought back 200mn taka from Singapore on July 11, 2007, the court ordered the authorities to spend the money in the development work of the
Tarique withdrew $50,000 from the Citibank NA account of Mamun using supplementary credit card on different dates, the court said.
The BNP leader spent the money for his treatment and shopping in Singapore in between 2003 and 2006 and mentioned the amount in his wealth statement which he submitted to the ACC, the judge said.
The money laundering charges brought against Tarique was not proved, the judge ruled.
Meanwhile, fearing reprisal for acquitting Tarique, judge Motahar Hossain who retired later, fled Bangladesh and is now living in Malaysia, ACC has learnt.
The judge left country 53 days after delivering the judgement in the money laundering case.
The information came to light while an ACC team launched preliminary investigation against the ‘discrepancies’ in the wealth statement of the judge who retired 43 days after delivering the judgement.
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