Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman were certainly involved in Niko corruption case, wrote Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a social media post on Friday (Dec 7).
Joy, who has been serving as the ICT affairs adviser to Prime Minister, also shared on Facebook some documents by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Canadian Royal Mounted Police (RCMP) investigators in the Niko corruption case.
He claimed that these documents are an evidence of corruption against Bangladesh nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia and Tarique Zia.
In the Facebook post, he wrote, “These are the full witness statements by the US FBI and Canadian Royal Mounted Police investigators in the Niko corruption case. Both detail the evidence of corruption against Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman. They have been filed in our courts already and are now public record.”
According to both FBI and RCMP reports, Moudud played a key role behind Canada-based Niko securing the contract to explore gas fields in Bangladesh.
Earlier, the FBI investigation found BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, the then prime minister, and her son Tarique Rahman received a part of kickbacks via a proxy, paid by the Canada-based Niko Resources Ltd to get lease of some Sylhet gas fields.
According to the investigation reports, BNP leader and the then law minister Moudud Ahmed played a key role behind Canada-based Niko securing the contract.
After the BNP-led alliance government took office in 2001, Niko signed two deals with Bapex and PetroBangla.
A Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Bapex to develop two “marginal” gas fields in Sylhet’s Chhatak and Feni in 2003 and a Gas Purchase and Sales Agreement (GPSA) in 2006 with Petrobangla.
In a press briefing in November last, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said his office moved a petition to a special court in Dhaka to include two Canadian police officials and a FBI agent to testify in the case.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lodged the case against Khaleda and 10 others in 2007 during the Fakhruddin Ahmed-led caretaker regime.
According to the graft watchdog, the accused were responsible for causing the exchequer a loss of around Tk137.77 billion by abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Niko during the BNP-led alliance’s tenure from 2001-2006.
The others accused in the case are Moudud Ahmed, former state minister for energy and minerals AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, former secretary Khandaker Shahidul Islam, former senior assistant secretary CM Yusuf Hossain, former general manager of Bapex Mir Moinul Haque, former Bapex secretary Md Shafiur Rahman , businessman and known lobbyist Giasuddin Al Mamoon, a close friend of Tarique Rahman, former president of Dhaka Club Selim Bhuiyan, and Niko Vice-President for South Asia Qasim Sharif.
Niko pleaded guilty before a Canadian court of bribing Mosharraf and agreed to pay a $9.5 million fine in June 2011.
What was in the FBI report?
In the investigation report, former FBI special agent Debra Griffith, who was assigned by the FBI to investigate majority of the international money laundering and asset recovery cases between 2003 and 2015, wrote that she and Linda Samuel, the then deputy chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the US Department of Justice, travelled to Bangladesh five times between 2008 and 2011 and worked closely with Bangladeshi investigators until December 2015 when she obtained records from the US, Bangladesh, Singapore, Switzerland, and Canada.
Referring to defendant Selim Bhuiyan’s 2008 court deposition, Griffith wrote in her statement that Selim was approached and offered a bribe by Niko Vice-President for South Asia Qasim Sharif at businessman Giasuddin Al Mamoon’s office.
“Bhuiyan stated that Qasim Sharif promised them financial benefits if they could assist with their proposal for gas exploration rights. Bhuiyan told the judge that his job was to get various government approvals for Niko. Bhuiyan stated that later he and Mamoon went to visit his friend, AKM Mosharraf Hossain, the then state minister for energy and minerals, and sought his cooperation.”
Griffith further wrote quoting Selim’s testimony that the junior minister agreed to cooperate and from that point on, he and Mamoon regularly received updates from Mosharraf on the deal.
In 2003, according to the FBI special agent’s report, Qasim Sharif deposited approximately $500,000 (around Tk3 crore) into Selim’s Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) account in Bangladesh as kickbacks after the Bapex-Niko Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) was signed.
Selim testified in court that Tk1.08 crore from those funds was given to Mamoon through a pay order and later other amounts in cash and cheques.
“Bhuiyan stated that he believed the funds given to Mamoon would be shared with people close to the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and her son Tarique Rahman. Mosharraf was given Tk60 lakh from that same account while Bhuiyan kept the remaining Tk60 lakh as his own “lobbying” fee.
“My investigation revealed that money from accounts controlled by Qasim Sharif was transferred to Selim Bhuiyan. There is evidence that these payments represent bribe payments paid to intermediaries for the ultimate benefit of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Tarique Rahman and others,” Griffith wrote in her statement.
The statement also reads that investigations revealed that in 2003, Khaleda and Mosharraf gave “verbal orders to the government officials directing them to sign the JVA between Niko and Bapex.”
Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) Peace Officer Kevin Duggan, of the International Anti-Corruption Unit of the force, told a Canadian court in 2017 he came across an account statement for Selim Bhuiyan’s SCB account which a withdrawal of Tk10.8 million on January 7, 2004, by him via a pay order. Mamoon’s bank statement showed a deposit for the same amount with the “same order number” on January 8, he said.
“I read a credit card account statement dated September 26, 2006, for a Citibank credit card in the name of “Md Giasuddin Al-Mamoon, care of Rahman Group of Industries” of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The statement showed that this account pertained to credit cards held by Md G Al Mamoon and Tarique Rahman,” reads the affidavit.