Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday told Parliament that the World Bank must apologise to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over the false allegation of graft conspiracy in the Padma Bridge project.
“The World Bank must apologise to Bangladesh, its Prime Minister and the accused in the case,” he said on point of order in the House, urging Finance Minister AMA Muhith to issue a note of protest to the donor agency if it does not render apology.
Citing the Canadian court's verdict that dismissed the 'corruption conspiracy' involving the Padma Bridge project, the minister said, “It (case) was filed on the basis of fabricated stories and rumour. It definitely affected us. Now, we've retained our dignity.”
He also said those affected due to the filing of the case can seek redress from court either here or there in Canada.
Canadian Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer dismissed the case acquitting three former top executives of SNC-Lavalin in an international bribery case linked to Padma Bridge construction in Bangladesh. The case was related to alleged bribery of foreign officials about the Padma Bridge construction contract.
Anisul claimed that then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had put pressure for filing the case at the behest of Dr Muhammad Yunus.
He also said Bangladesh's image was brightened with the Canadian court verdict. "It proves how Sheikh Hasina's boldness and dignity is. Our conviction has proved to be true. Now we're constructing the Padma Bridge with our own fund.”
Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid initiated the debate which was joined by Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon, Jatiya Party MP Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu, Awami League MPs Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Dr Dipu Moni and Abdul Mannan, and Jasod MP Moin Uddin Khan Badal.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed described former Communications Minister Abul Hossain as patriotic as the allegation brought against him over the Padma Bridge graft conspiracy was false. “It's proved he's innocent."
When the World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion credit for the Padma Bridge project in 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took a bold step to construct the bridge with own fund and had asked the bank to prove the graft conspiracy, he said. “With the Canadian court verdict, the Prime Minister finally won the challenge and the World Bank lost it.”
Taking a swipe at the Rampal power plant critics, Tofail said those now criticising the government for the project had earlier blasted it over the Padma Bridge graft conspiracy allegation.
He also described those who tarnished Bangladesh's image bringing the graft allegation as the country's 'enemies'.
Nasim said the House must summon those who insulted sovereign Parliament and the Prime Minister bringing the graft conspiracy allegation. “A parliamentary standing committee has the authority to summon Dr Muhammad Yunus and others over the false allegation,” he said.
The health minister also demanded adopting a motion in Parliament condemning the World Bank.
He also announced that if any legal action is taken against the conspirators, he will bear the expenses for the lawsuits.