Dhaka: Bangladesh’s Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) claims to have recovered 2.04 million Singapore dollars allegedly siphoned by the younger son of Khaleda Zia, chief of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Arafat Rahman Koko is said to be absconding.
ACC chairman Ghulam Rahman said the amount was returned under a deal with Singapore authorities. The money was allegedly siphoned during the 2001-06 tenure of the BNP-led coalition government.
“The amount was transferred to an ACC account with the [state-owned] Sonali Bank’s Ramna Corporate Branch,” Rahman said.
The statutory anti-graft body chief said this was the first time Bangladesh recovered laundered money. Efforts are on to to bring back $936,000, which too was allegedly laundered by Koko.
The development comes five months after a Dhaka court handed six years imprisonment to Koko after trial in absentia for siphoning off over Taka 20 crore abroad while the court at that time declared him “fugitive” for failure to appear befoee the court to face the trial.
During the past military-backed interim regime in 2008, the ACC revealed that Koko has foreign currencies worth around Taka 11.43 crore deposited in a Singapore bank but he concealed its information in his wealth statement submitted to the anti-graft watchdog.
Koko, now living in Bangkok, was arrested on September 2007 on graft charges under a massive anti-graft campaign under emergency rules during the past army backed interim regime and was paroled for treatment abroad in July 2008.
According to the charge-sheet, Koko had underhand dealings with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd and German telecom giant Siemens for setting up New Mooring Container Terminal in southeastern port city of Chittagong for supplying and installing equipment for the state-owned Teletalk mobile phone operator respectively.
Singaporean authorities in December 2008 froze assets worth 1.6 million US dollars associated with a company Koko established in 2004.
Koko’s elder brother and BNP’s senior vice president Tarique Rahman also faces a number of graft and criminal charges including murder cases at different courts and is being tried in absentia.
The ACC announcement came as BNP has consistently been alleging that the Zia’s sons were being victimised for political vengeance while the issue appeared as a crucial factor ahead of the next year’s general elections.