Khaleda Zia faces another corruption charge

February 27th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, Feb 27 (IANS) Bangladesh’s former prime minister Khaleda Zia and 10 ministers in her government have been accused of receiving kickbacks while awarding a coalmine operation contract to a Chinese firm during their tenure in office. This is the third graft case against the Bangladesh National Party chief, who ruled the country from 2001 to 2006 and is in jail since September last year.

Also sued is Amir (chief) Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Matiur Rahman Nizami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, who was the industry minister in the Zia government.

Of the former ministers charged in the case, nine were members of the cabinet purchase committee.

The present government is in the process of revamping operations at the Barapukuria coalmine with the help of the Chinese government, The Daily Star said Wednesday.

The contract meant a loss of Taka 1.58 billion (about $26 million) to the public exchequer, the government has alleged in its charge sheet filed before a court.

Although corruption charges are also being pursued against Zia’s political rival, another jailed former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the coalmine deal with the Chinese is the biggest case the government is pursuing, covering a large number of top civil servants.

Both BNP and JeI have rejected allegations against their leaders as “motivated”.

Barapukuria coalmine development project, implemented under a Chinese supplier’s credit scheme, “remains one of the significant cases of corruption by some policymakers, officials and a business house during the tenure of two governments headed by Khaleda Zia”, The Daily Star said.

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