Hasina, Khaleda have no ill-gotten wealth: government probe

September 26th, 2008 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 26 (IANS) Bangladesh’s former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, who were imprisoned on graft charges for over a year, “possess no ill-gotten wealth”, says a probe by the military-backed caretaker government. The government’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is unlikely to file any case against the two women leaders of the mainstream parties, who are preparing to slug it out in the parliamentary polls slated for Dec 18.

The year-long enquiry has not found any ill-gotten wealth accumulated by them. The anti-graft watchdog is, in fact, considering closing the matter, The Daily Star newspaper quoted unnamed ACC sources as saying.

“The ACC could have filed cases against Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia earlier had there been any evidence that they accumulated ill-gotten wealth as filing of such cases is easier than cases on other corruption charges,” an ACC official said requesting anonymity.

“Observing carefully, one will find that most cases against high-profile corruption suspects were filed over illegal wealth. As the ACC has not yet filed any such case against the two former premiers, it is likely to close the matter,” the official said.

Asked about the delay in taking steps regarding the wealth statements of Awami League leader Hasina and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) Zia, ACC Director General (Admin) Col Hanif Iqbal told reporters: “Time is necessary for proper scrutiny. The commission has not yet taken any decision regarding the matter.”

Zia had filed a wealth statement from jail claiming that her income between 1982 and 2007 included house rent, pension as a parliamentarian, her salary as the prime minister for 10 years and as leader of the opposition for five years, some landed property left behind by her husband, the late president Ziaur Rahman, besides a Toyota car, two Toyota SUVs and a Nissan SUV.

The statement also listed “seven sofa sets, two sets of dining tables, 20 lamps, one coat, 10 air coolers, three carpet and two television sets”.

Hasina in her wealth statement said she does not own any house or land and that most of her properties, which are not in Dhaka or abroad, are inherited.

She also mentioned salaries she received in her capacities as the prime minister, a lawmaker and the opposition leader and benefits from inherited properties.

Ownership of the land in her ancestral home is shared by sister Rehana. It was left behind by their father and Bangladesh’s first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Both women leaders had filed their statements from jail, when the banks had refused to supply them documents.

The ACC expressed its inability to pursue cases pertaining to ill-gotten wealth on a day it approved the chargesheet against Zia and 15 others, including 10 former ministers of the BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami, in a case filed in connection with illegally awarding the Barapukuria coalmine operation contract to a Chinese company.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |