Wednesday, November 22, 2017

World Bank must work to regain trust: Law Minister

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-02-16 17:55:49 BdST


The World Bank must ‘take steps’ to regain the trust of Bangladesh and other countries after losing the Padma Bridge case, said Law Minister Anisul Haq.

“The World Bank must take steps to regain our trust so that all of the world’s countries, including Bangladesh, can know that it makes amends for its faults,” he said.

The World Bank raised a stink over alleged corruption in the execution of the Padma Bridge project and suspended funding. Bangladesh was forced to withdraw its funding request and is now moving forward on the project using its own resources.

A case was started at a Canada court against SNC-Lavalin, accusing the company of bribing Bangladeshi officials to secure contracts in the Padma Bridge project in 2010-11.

After a long process, the Canadian court acquitted the three employees of Canada-based SNC Lavalin on Friday.

The verdict said the evidence produced in the case was "nothing more than assumptions and rumours."

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has maintained from the very beginning that the allegations were part of a conspiracy and claimed some Bangladesh nationals were involved in it.

Addressing the Parliament recently, she accused Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus of using then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to disrup World Bank funding. The editor of a national newspaper was also blamed for the conspiracy.

On Wednesday, the High Court issued a rule for trying those who made 'false graft allegations' over one of the largest infrastructure projects.

Bangladesh wants the World Bank to make amends over the incident, the law minister told the media on Thursday.

“As you may know the 14-Party alliance has claimed damages of $1 billion,” he said. “Amends can be made by paying compensation. They may also make amends by taking action against those officials who perpetrated this injustice against us.”

The law minister said he stands by his statement before Parliament demanding an apology from the World Bank to Bangladesh, the prime minister and those accused in the case.

Those affected may take legal action against the World Bank, he said.

“When Bangladesh became a member of the World Bank we entered into an agreement,” he said. “I do not believe there is anything preventing legal action against the World Bank for withdrawal of funds.”

“The World Bank is not above the law. If someone slanders another, then the individual can take legal action.”