3 accused used past intimacy in 'graft conspiracy'
Three of the main accused in the Padma Bridge graft conspiracy case had maintained close intimacy since their student life and they used the same for committing the alleged misdeed, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has found.
Sources at the ACC, which is currently investigating the alleged graft plot in the process of appointing a consultant for supervision works in Padma Bridge project, said they discovered the information during their investigation.
A senior ACC official, linked with the investigation, told the FE that the past close relations among Kazi M Ferdous, superintending engineer (river engineering) of Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), M Riaz Ahmed Zaber, executive engineer (bridge construction and maintenance) of Roads and Highways Department and former director (international project division) of SNC Lavalin Inc Mohammad Ismail, also a Canadian citizen, had played a key role in the alleged corruption conspiracy.
Preferring anonymity, he said arrested Ferdous and Zaber have already given confessional statements under section 161 of the CrPc admitting their complicity in the 'corruption conspiracy'.
"They (the accused persons) studied at the civil engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)," he said, adding that they also used to reside at Ahsanullah Hall of the university during their student life.
According to BUET registrar's office, Riaz Ahmed Zaber completed his BSc course from the BUET in 1987, followed by Ismail (1989) and Ferdous (1992). Ismail obtained second class while the remaining duo secured first class.
Another ACC official said, the trio also used to share e-mails on a regular basis to know the latest developments for the US$ 2.9 billion project to construct the country's largest bridge over the Padma river.
At one stage of the project, the authorities of the Canadian firm suspended Ismail from the consultancy company sensing the suspected bribe plot in the project.
"Then, Ismail played the role of middle- man by capitalising the past relationship among the high-ranking government officials concerned in the project," he said, adding that they have more information that further establishes their intimacy.
But the ACC official concerned did not disclose the info for the sake of investigation. Ismail hailed from Satkania of Chittagong.
The ACC sources said, the SNC Lavalin officials, including Ismail, held talks with the government officials concerned on May 29 last in Dhaka and the bridge division authority recommended the Canadian firm for the supervision job on June 19 last despite the fact that the evaluation process was still going on.
The anti-graft watchdog on December 17 last filed the first information report (FIR) accusing seven persons with Banani Police Station.
The persons accused in the case were Kazi M Ferdous, M Riaz Ahmed Zaber, Mohammad Mustafa, deputy managing director of Engineering and Planning Consultant Limited (EPC), Mohammad Ismail, former director (International project division) of SNC Lavalin Inc, Romesh Shah, former vice president (International project division) of SNC Lavalin and Kevin Walace of the Canadian consultancy firm.