Dhaka: A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent on Wednesday testified before a Dhaka court against ex-prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia's "fugitive" elder son saying the US agency found him siphoning out Taka 20.41 crore to a Singaporean bank.
Lawyers of Tarique Rahman, also the vice president of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the hearing as FBI special agent Debra LaPrevotte told the special judge's court that the US agency carried out an investigation into the alleged money laundering case responding to a request by Bangladesh government.
During the nearly one and half hour hearing she said FBI found that Rahman and his controversial business partner Giasuddin al Mamun had stashed away the amount.
The defence lawyers earlier sought the court order to bar her from testifying on "law grounds" and then left the courtroom expressing "no confidence" against her statement as Judge Mozammel Hossain rejected their plea.
Rahman's chief counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain said Debra was not a witness named in the charge-sheet and according to rules she could testify only after the court recorded the statements of the named witnesses.
"The government has hired a foreign witness to testify against Tarique Rahman while the original witnesses have not said that he has any bank account in Singapore," BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told newsmen in an instant reaction.
Rahman, now living in London, was declared "fugitive" as he defied an earlier summon by the court while Mamun was facing the trial in person.
He was arrested March 7, 2007 under state of emergency rule during the past military-backed interim government as part of a massive anti-graft campaign but was paroled at the fag end of the regime for receiving treatment abroad. He has since been living in Britain.
The judge yesterday allowed the FBI agent to testify in the graft case on a prosecution application filed by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief counsel Anisul Huq saying she had helped the graft watchdog investigating charges against Rahman.
The trial of the money laundering case began on September 11 with the deposition of the complainant kicking of the trial of the first out of the 15 criminal and graft cases against Rahman.
The court in August this year indicted Rahman and Mamun and issued a warrant ordering arrest of the ex-premier's son to be exposed to trial to face the charge that alleged the two siphoned out at least Taka 20.41 crore between 2003 and 2007.
Another Dhaka court earlier issued warrants against Rahman as a prime suspect of the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on a rally of now ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, killing 24 people.
Witnesses and officials the chief metropolitan magistrate court of Dhaka ordered them to be sent to jail as the former inspectors general of police Ashraful Huda, Khoda Baksh Chowdhury and Shahudul Haque surrendered before the court.
Rahman's younger brother Arafat Rahman Koko in June this year handed down six years of imprisonment for siphoning off over Taka 20 crore abroad after trial in absentia.
The World Bank recently released a publication mentioning the alleged embezzlement of several million dollars by Koko as "an example of stealing national assets".