‘Koko’s laundered money’ a drama, claims BNP
BNP on Friday shrugged off the report on the recovery of Tk 13 crore purportedly laundered by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko, saying it is an effort by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to undermine the opposition.
“The current ACC has already established itself as an agent of the government. We think ACC is biased to the government and now working to belittle the opposition at its behest,” said BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
The BNP spokesman came up with his party’s reaction to the report on the recovery of the laundered money while visiting injured Shariatpur district unit leaders of BNP at a city hospital.
Earlier on Thursday, ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman told reporters that the commission has brought back around Tk 13 crore laundered by Koko and his associate.
Reacting to the ACC chairman’s claim, Fakhrul said, “The incident of the recovery of money is nothing but part of efforts of the ACC to assassinate the characters of the opposition leaders …it’s politically motivated.”
Accusing the government of using the ACC to gain its narrow political interests, the BNP leader said the current regime cooked up the story through the ACC to defame Koko to divert people’s attention from their corruption and failures.
He alleged that the ACC is not taking any action against the ruling party men who laundered several thousand crores of taka after looting from the financial sector, including the share market, and through Destiny and Hall-Mark groups.
Fakhrul also alleged that the anti-graft body is giving clean chits to the ruling party men involved in corruption while filing false cases against Khaleda Zia, Tarique Rahman and Koko one after another.
The Anti-Corruption Commission says it has brought back around 20.41 lakh Singapore dollars laundered by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and his associate.
“A few minutes back, I came to know that the sum of money has been transferred to Sonali Bank’s Ramna corporate branch from Singapore,” ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman around 5:00pm yesterday said.
The commission earlier had opened the Stolen Asset Recovery Account to receive the amount, he told reporters while leaving his office in the capital’s Segunbagicha.
The money, equivalent to over Tk 13 crore, was deposited in Singapore by Koko and Ismail Hossain Saimon, son of former BNP minister late Akbar Hossain. It will be now spent in anti-graft activities, he said.
This is the first money laundering case in which the government could recover an amount.
ACC Deputy Director Abu Syeed on March 17, 2009 sued Koko and Saimon for laundering more than Tk 20 crore — Singapore $28,84,603.15 and US $9,32,672.81.
Koko had received the amount from the Chinese company Siemens and from Habibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi living in Dubai, Syeed told The Daily Star over phone yesterday.
The anti-graft body recovered the amount that Habib had sent to Fairhill Consulting’s account at Singapore Overseas Bank from Janata Bank’s Dubai branch between 2004 and 2007.
An ACC probe found Koko was the owner of Fairhill.
In the case, the ACC pinpoints Koko’s dealings with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd for constructing the New Mooring Container Terminal and with Siemens for supplying and setting up equipment for Teletalk mobile phone company.
Trying him in absentia, a Dhaka court on June 23 last year sentenced Koko to six years’ rigorous imprisonment. It also fined him around Tk 39 crore and ordered confiscating the laundered money.
Saimon was handed down the same sentence.
Abu Syeed said the ACC was yet to interrogate expatriate Habibur Rahman, who hails from Habiganj, and implicate him in the money laundering.
Koko left the country for Bangkok for treatment on July 19, 2008 after getting out of jail on parole. He was arrested on September 2 the year before along with his mother from their cantonment residence.
This is the first time the ACC has investigated overseas money laundering and corruption.
The probe was conducted with the help of the Singapore authorities following a mutual legal assistance request under the UN Convention against Corruption. The ACC obtained many documents from Singapore.
The Attorney General’s Office and Bangladesh Bank have played a vital role in the investigation.
A Singapore court ordered the return of the money to Bangladesh, the ACC chairman said, adding that bringing back US $9,32,672.81 was also underway.
He thanked the United States, FBI and US Justice Department and Singaporean authorities for their contributions in the recovery.