ACC graft case against Khaleda, 5 ex-ministers testify

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Dhaka, Sep 26 (UNI) Five members of former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia's cabinet yesterday appeared before the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to testify in the Global Agro Trade Company Limited (GATCO) graft case filed against her and 12 others.

Begum Zia's Finance and Planning minister M Saifur Rahman, Information minister M Shamsul Islam, Local Government minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Ariculture minister M K Anwar and Industry minister Matiur Rahman Nizami arrived at the ACC amid tight security and were questioned by a three-member team comprising ACC, taskforce and CID officials, the News Today reported.

ACC officials said they summoned the former ministers, who were in cabinet committee on purchase when the ICD container handling contract was given to GATCO, to probe why the committee had first rejected its offer but subsequently approved it.

ACC secretary Mokhlesur Rahman told reporters at a briefing at that questions on the irregularities in awarding the ICD container handling contract to GATCO was asked.

Former Commerce minister Amir Khoshru Mahmud Chowdhury was also summoned, but he did not turn up as he is outside the country.

Mr Rahman said the five former ministers were cooperating with the commission to investigate in the case.

The ACC had filed a case on September 3 against Ms Zia, her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and 11 others charging them with violation of condition in appointing GATCO, an indenting house, for container handling at the Dhaka Inland Container Depot (ICD) and the Chittagong Port ICD yard despite its lacking experience and skills.

Begum Zia and former shipping minister Colonel (retd) Akbar Ali have been alleged for misusing their positions and taking initiatives to award the container handling contract to GATCO despite the cabinet committee's objection to the proposal.

In the case, it was alleged that due to lack of experience GATCO could not conduct the work smoothly resulting in violence at the ICD on different occasions which caused government a loss of over 1,000 crore Takas.


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