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WB panel meets ACC

Times National Desk - December 3rd, 2012

A visiting external panel of the World Bank held an hour-long meeting with the Anti-Corruption Commission Sunday afternoon to hear about the progress that the anti-graft body made in investigating the graft allegations in the Padma bridge project.
The meeting began around 3:10pm and ended at 4:20pm at the ACC’s Segunbagicha headquarters in the capital.
Allen Goldstein, WB country director to Bangladesh, said, “We are very encouraged so far by this initial meeting.”
Goldstein said, “If there is sufficient progress (in the ACC investigation), then we are hopeful. Then the project will be implemented.”
The panel headed former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo will sit with the ACC for several more times till December 6.
The other two panel members are Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission against Corruption of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.
The team is also scheduled to meet Finance Minister AMA Muhith Sunday evening.
Earlier, the external panel came to Dhaka on October 14 for the first time.
In a statement on November 28, WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein said, “The external panel of internationally-recognised experts will advise the World Bank and co-financiers on the adequacy of the government’s investigation.”
The finance ministry official said, whether the financiers, including the WB, will finally provide fund to the Padma bridge project depends on the report of the external panel. Already on November 13, the WB sent a third report to the ACC on corruption evidence.
The original $1.2 billion WB credit for the bridge was cancelled on June 29 due to an insufficient response by Bangladeshi authorities to evidence of a conspiracy of corruption involving senior public officials.
The global lending agency, however, returned on September 20 as subsequently additional actions were undertaken and the government agreed to go by four conditions that also include proper investigation into the allegations.