Bangladesh PM advisors accused of massive corruption
By Jessica Fox
Remaining days in office for the present ruling party in Bangladesh, a small South Asian nation is exactly 485 days, while according to a number of reports published in prominent Indian newspapers namely Times of India, The Pioneer, The Hindu and Hindustan Times, the mercury of popularity of ruling Bangladesh Awami League has unexpectedly dropped from what it celebrated during the election in December 2005. During this election, Bangladesh Awami League won 233 seats out of 299 seats in the National Parliament under the leadership charismas of Sheikh Hasina. The slogan of ‘CHANGE’ was a big attraction to the Bangladeshi voters, which was possibly copied from that of Barack Obama and the Democrats in the US Presidential election almost during the same timing. It is important to mention here that Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajib Wazed Joy is a US citizen, who had recently separated from his second wife Christina for purely personal reasons. Meanwhile Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as well as US Federal Investigation Bureau are investigating the case of huge scandal related to Padma bridge project, where more than US$ 35 million had already been transacted as bribes for awarding contract to a Canadian company. It was lately revealed by the Canadian investigators that, significant portion of this money entered United States and was invested in multiple business ventures. Sajib Wazed Joy runs number of business ventures in US, which include Infolink International, Nova BD International LLC, SEAMEWE-4 Undersea Cable, Tyco Communications (USA), Wazed Consulting and Sim Global Services. It is also alleged that, Bangladeshi authorities are forced to award large business contracts in favor of Tyco Communications (USA), SEAMEWE-4 Undersea Cable, Sim Global Services, Infolink International, Nova BD International LLC etc, wherefrom the Prime Minister’s son is cashing huge sum of money every month. The investigators in Canada and USA are also checking the facts behind buying of two comfy houses by the relatives of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. The houses are located at Bell Manor Court, Falls Church, Virginia, and the other at 4823 Martin Street, Alexandria (VA 22312).
The investigators are also chasing the trail of an investment of aboutCan$8 million in the acquisition of six dollar stores and other assets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by two Bangladeshi businessmen linked with the bribe scam.
Earlier, the World Bank claimed that it was in possession of credible evidence and had shared the evidence with the Bangladesh authorities with respect to the bona fide of the crime. Citing concerns over the lingering inactivity of the Bangladesh government in investigating and taking appropriate actions against the recipients of the alleged kickbacks, the WB scrapped a US$1.2 billion loan for the project on June 30th this year. Bangladesh authorities denied showing the documents or the contents of the letter it received from World Bank. Rather the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and senior members of her party got into rampant campaign against World Bank, terming itself as the “most corrupt institution in the world”.
The Canadian authorities had earlier impounded the passports of two of the most influential figures in the ruling circle in Bangladesh, to prevent them from leaving Canada
While credibility of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League is at stake due to gross irregularities and series of corruption, a number of advisors of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are also named as “most corrupts” because of their documented involvements in numerous financial crimes. Advisor to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Dr. Mashiur Rahman is already identified by the World Bank as one of the master-players behind the Padma bridge bride scam, who has been repeatedly suggested to resign from the post in order to ensure transparency into the possible World Bank investment into the bridge project.
Energy advisor to the Bangladeshi PM, Dr. Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury, is accused of putting country’s energy sector and economy into deep crisis by wrongly suggesting the government in allowing private sector in establishing quick-rental power plants. But such theory of the advisor seriously backfired and meantime the syndicate of the profit-monger entrepreneurs of quick-rental power plants bagged more than US$ 5 billion from the national exchequer either by submitting false bills or through many other excuses. Due to this motivated decision of advisor Dr. Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury, the entire nation of 160 million people are now suffering thus the prices of domestic and industrial electricity had been increased 12 times since the government of Bangladesh Awami League came in power.
In another financial scam, where a private company named Hallmark Group in Bangladesh swindled more than US$1 billion from the state-owned Sonali Bank, the name of the advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Professor Dr. Syed Modasser Ali has already appeared in local media as the top abettor of this financial crime. It is also reported in media that, the same racket of swindlers, under patronization of the advisor had robbed few more billions of dollars from few more state-owned financial enterprises. The banking scandal in Bangladesh is appearing in local and international media at the time when Sheikh Hasina’s government is continuing tug of war against Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Mohammad Yunus, raising accusations of his “financial irregularities”, till he was removed from the post of the chief executive officer of the bank, under direct initiatives of the ruling party.
Similarly, international affairs advisor to the Bangladeshi PM, Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi is criticized for his questionable roles of compromising national interests of Bangladesh, with the ulterior motive of serving Indian interests. Dr. Rizvi came under massive media offensives, when he totally failed in getting the water sharing treaty signed with India during the visit of Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh.
But the most nefarious financial crimes are continuing to be committed by advisor without portfolio of the Bangladeshi PM, Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, who pretends and proclaims to be the “defense advisor to the PM”, though according to official documents, he holds the position of the advisor without portfolio. Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique is the younger brother of the husband of Sheikh Rehana, the only surviving sister of Bangladeshi Prime Minister. It may be mentioned here that, entire family of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were brutally assassinated on 15th August 1975 during a military coup.
After assuming office in January 2009, Bangladeshi PM’s advisor Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique illegally grabbed a power plant named Westmont Power Bangladesh Limited, which was built in 2002 under investment of some Malaysian entrepreneurs. He also joined hands with a scandalous multi level marketing company named Destiny Group in 2009 and had been making huge sum of money through illegal means and had also smuggled out significant sum of foreign currency to a number of countries. Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique hold shares in proposed Destiny Bank Limited, an enterprise of Destiny Group, through a company named Prochhaya Limited, where his wife and daughters are dominant share holders.
Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique’s family business company; Prochhaya Limited has also been engaged in illegal grabbing of valuable government lands in Dhaka city, which had already come to the attention of the Prime Minister and her younger sister. Recently, Prochhaya Limited has grabbed an extremely valuable piece of land measuring one acre, at an area named Hatirjheel, which is adjacent to city’s diplomatic enclaves. Since grabbing the property, Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique used his official influence in having a camp of law enforcing agencies within the compound, thus openly projecting it to be a restricted zone protected by the government.
Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique is also accused of abusing Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, National Security Intelligence, Rapid Action Battalion and Bangladesh Police in protecting business interests of his family. Some even compare the office of Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique’s family enterprise in Dhaka as “second power house”.
With series of specific and documented allegations of high-profile corruption and financial crime committed by the advisor of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister as well as its failures in addressing numerous issues of national interest, Indian intelligentsia has alerted a possible devastating defeat for Bangladesh Awami League during the general election in 2014. The present ruling government will complete its tenure on 31stDecember, 2013. As the forecasts and predictions along with intelligence reports of Indian agencies are getting published in prominent newspapers in that country, it has already started putting huge impact on the civil and military administration in Bangladesh, who is already becoming cautious in carrying out instructions from the ruling elites. In many cases, the civil and military administration are moving towards neutral position sensing possible consequences once the new government comes into power during early 2014. It may be mentioned here that, a few hundred government officials in the civil administration had been made OSD (Officer on Special Duty) by the ruling Bangladesh Awami League for their “intimacy” with the previous governments. At the same time, a large number of army officers had been sent on forced retirement by the current government, as those officers were considered to be “risky”.
Columnist & Analyst
Contributing regularly in global news outlets. She has earlier worked as editor and senior reporter with a number of newspapers and journals in the world. She has interviewed number of celebrity politicians such as Hosni Mubarak, Fidel Castro, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Saddam Hussain,Yaseer Arafat, Benazir Bhutto, Thaksin Shinawatra, Dr. Abdur Rahman Wahid, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed and others.