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Friday, 29 February 2008

Coalmine case

Staff Correspondent

A Dhaka court on Wednesday asked the Anti-Corruption Commission to submit by March 30 the report on the investigation into the Barapukuria coalmine scam case filed against the detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia, 10 of her cabinet colleagues and five others.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate M Golam Rabbani passed the order after accepting the first information report sent to him by the Shahbagh police.

The commission is, however, yet to appoint an investigation officer for the case filed by the commission's assistant director Shamsul Alam with the police on Tuesday.

Khaleda Zia, also the BNP chairperson, and 15 others, including 10 of her former cabinet colleagues, were accused of embezzling Tk 158.71 crore by awarding the highest bidder the production, operation and maintenance contracts for the coal mine.

Along with Khaleda, former ministers Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, Matiur Rahman Nizami, M Shamsul Islam, MK Anwar, Aminul Haque, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and AKM Mosharraf Hossain were accused in the case.

Former energy secretary Nazrul Islam, former Petrobangla chairman SR Osmani, now the BSCIC chairman, former Petrobangla director Moinul Ahsan, former Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd managing director (additional charge) Md Sirajul Islam, and the Hosaf Group chairman, Moazzem Hossain, were also accused in the case.

The 16 were accused of awarding Chinese CMC Consortium the Tk 493.79 crore contract for Barapukuria mining in 2005. The consortium, the highest bidder, was given the contract without re-tender.

A Tk 335.08 crore agreement signed with the lowest bidder, Sangdon Ludi Consortium, was scrapped following the company's demand for an upward revision in the project cost.

According to the first information report, Khaleda, her colleagues who were the members of the purchase committee, and others embezzled Tk 158,71,26342.22 by abusing power which caused the loss to the state exchequer.

Although the difference between the lowest and highest bids was Tk 158 crore, Khaleda assisted in the embezzlement by approving the recommendations of the purchase committee without accepting the Petrobangla proposal for re-tender, the first information report said.

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