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Bangladesh PM’s son demands apology over Padma Bridge allegations

Dhaka, Feb 11: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasi’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy on Saturday said those who raised allegations of graft in the ambitious Padma Bridge project should apologise to the government after a Cadian court debunked graft allegations in the case. Joy took to Facebook to lash out at those raising the allegations, bdnews24.com reported. Joy, who is also the Prime Minister’s ICT adviser, blamed the World Bank for raising a controversy over graft and bribery in the $2.9-billion Padma Bridge project. “The evidence was fabricated by the World Bank. I had seen the evidence myself during the whole episode.”

“It was quite clearly made up as there were no concrete details, just one anonymous source who was never revealed, even to the Cadian court.” said Joy.

“The World Bank came up with this plot against my mother, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasi’s government in an attempt to discredit her.”

Hasi has maintained that the Padma bridge graft-bribery allegations were aimed at undermining the image of her government and that some Bangladeshis were also involved with it. She has alleged that Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus had tried to influence then US secretary of state to cut off World Bank funding for the Padma Bridge.

Joy hit out at ‘a section of our civil society’ who had joined the World Bank in raising the stink over alleged graft. “They dragged the reputation of several highly respected, qualified and hardworking people through the mud…” he wrote, according to bdnews24. His comments came after two former top executives of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and a Bangladeshi-Cadian businessman were acquitted in an intertiol bribery case linked to the construction of Padma bridge. Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court threw out all wiretap evidence on Friday and rebuked the Royal Cadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for its conduct in the investigation, the Dhaka Tribune reported. The alleged bribery scheme is related to the $2.9-billion Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh. As part of that project, the Bangladeshi government was looking to award a $50-million construction supervision contract. SNC-Lavalin was one of the five companies short-listed for the contract.

In June 2012, the World Bank — a primary lender in the project — cancelled its $1.2 billion credit for the Padma bridge project, saying it had proof of a “corruption conspiracy”.

The three accused are Kevin Wallace, former vice-president of energy and infrastructure, his subordite Ramesh Shah and Bangladeshi-Cadian businessman Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan all pleaded not guilty in the case. After the suspension of the project, the Bangladesh government, which had been refuting the allegation of bribery attempts, decided to build the bridge with domestic funding. The main construction of the bridge began in December 2016 and is continuing smoothly. (IANS)