Bangladesh filed a fresh corruption charge against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, saying she plundered nearly $100 million in state funds by buying a frigate from South Korea while in office, officials said yesterday.

Three former senior officials of the Bangladesh Navy, including its former chief, Rear Admiral M. Nurul Islam, and a businessman were also accused in the corruption case.

The frigate built by South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co, after winning a bid in 1997, joined Bangladesh Navy in June last year as its fifth frigate.

"The Bureau of Anti-Corruption filed the corruption case against the former prime minister and four others late on Wednesday," Inspector Rashedul Islam of Tejgaon Police Station in Dhaka told Reuters.

The government in December filed two corruption charges against Hasina for allegedly misappropriating $126 million from two deals in 1998.

One of the charges related to Bangladesh's purchase of eight Mig-29 aircraft worth $123 million from Russia for the Bangladesh air force and the other for misappropriating $3 million in the appointment of foreign consultants for an export promotion scheme.
A trial has yet to begin, court officials said.

"The charges are totally false and designed to harass the opposition leader," said Abdus Samad Azad, a senior leader of Awami League.

The anti-corruption bureau accused Hasina of pressuring authorities into buying the frigate at a higher price, "violating the conditions of the purchase tender. This led to a loss of $99.97 million to the nation, which is tantamount to criminal misappropriation of state funds."