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Call for visible ACC action over Panama, Paradise papers graft

FE Report | April 02, 2018 00:00:00

Mentioning that some Bangladeshis were named in the Panama and Paradise papers leak, former caretaker government adviser Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury said Sunday the national anti-graft authority should publicise its action to that end.

He said, "Many Bangladeshis were named in the Panama papers and Paradise papers leak, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should inform the people via media what measures it has taken in this regard."

Mr Choudhury, also the vice-chancellor of the University of Asia Pacific, was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar on 'Accountable Management of Administration: Guideline for Corruption Suppression and Prevention' organised by the ACC at its headquarters in the city.

Presided over by ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood, the programme was also addressed by former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan, founder chairman of Centre for Development Research, Bangladesh (CDRB) Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelley, Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, among others.

Talking about setting an instance of exemplary punishment to the key corrupt people, he said, "The commission should ensure severe punishment to the influential corrupt people instead of just summoning them now and then."

The graft-watchdog should also take effective steps to curb the trade that occurs during recruitment, promotion and transfer in the government administration, he said.

Suggesting a massive campaign in the media to deliver anti-corruption messages to the society, he said it is quite tough to suppress or prevent graft in the society without a congenial political atmosphere.

The Paradise Papers are a set of 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments that were revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in November 2017, where 20 Bangladeshis were named.

The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detailed financial and attorneyclient information of more than 214,488 offshore entities in 2015.

Many Bangladeshis were named in the both leaks but no government action against them is visible until now, he further said.

In response to Mr Choudhury's remark over Panama and Paradise papers leak, the ACC chairman said, "It should be understood that all types of graft are not under the commission's scheduled offences."

He said amendment to some provisions of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2004 and the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2009 excluded ACC's authority to investigate some of the irregularities including forgery, fraudulence and money laundering of private sector individuals.

"For that reason, it has become a complex issue for the commission to do investigation against the people who were named in the Panama and Paradise papers," he said.

Mr Mahmood also said despite all the difficulties, the commission interrogated some of the accused persons by investigating their sources of wealth.

Talking about corruption in the bureaucracy, he said there is no easy way to root out graft from the bureaucracy without a systematic reform.

He also said the commission will follow a 'zero tolerance policy' against question leaks and coaching business.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Hafizuddin said accountability is absent in the country's administration and without ensuring accountability, it isn't possible to check graft in the country.

He said transparent and impartial policy for government recruitment, promotion, transfer, training and discipline is required to establish accountability in administration.

The TIB executive director said political will is the most important thing to curb corruption in the country.

Besides, exemplary punishment to indentified corrupt people is also crucial to get rid of culture of impunity, he said.

Moderated by Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Rangpur University vice-chancellor Dr Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) president Mujahidul Islam Selim, former minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf, Barrister Amir-ul Islam, former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Khandker Ibrahim Khaled, ACC commissioners Dr Nasiruddin Ahmed and AFM Aminul Islam and parliament member AKM Rahmatullah also spoke at the programme.

The ACC organised the programme as part of observing 'Corruption Prevention Week-2018' that commenced on March 26 to raise awareness among the citizens against graft.

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