US to help Bangladesh seize bribe money

13th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

US officials have traced 20 million dollars allegedly taken by the former prime minister's son from foreign companies, including from German industrial giant Siemens.

Dhaka -- The United States will help Bangladesh recover 200 million dollars of kickbacks paid by foreign companies to a group that includes the son of a former prime minister, officials in Dhaka said.

The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made the assurance on a weekend visit to Bangladesh, the country's new law minister Shafiq Ahmed said.

"A dozen influential people including several ministers of the past Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led government took some 200 million dollars in kickbacks," he said. "The United States have said they have identified the places where the money has been siphoned off. We are now working together to recover the money."

The chief prosecutor of the Anti Corruption Commission, Syed Anisul Haq, said that former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko, 36, was among those accused.

Zia's BNP led the government in between 2001 and 2006, before an army-backed regime took over and detained the ex-premier, her two sons and most members of her cabinet on charges of corruption.

Zia insisted that Koko be freed as a precondition for her participation in last month's elections, allowing him to fly to Thailand where he is undergoing treatment for asthma and heart problems.

The BNP was crushed in the vote, and analysts say that graft charges linked to Zia's government played a role in the party's worst result in its history.

Haq said that US officials have traced 20 million dollars allegedly taken by Koko from foreign companies, including from German industrial giant Siemens and Hong Kong-based China Harbor Engineering.

A US embassy spokesman confirmed the collaboration with Bangladesh authorities.

AFP/Expatica

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