ACC remains `clawless-toothless`: Outgoing chief

The outgoing chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission Ghulam Rahman on Wednesday called the ACC ‘a toothless tiger’ which was yet to grow claws and teeth, because of too many loopholes in the laws.‘Most of the corrupt people are powerful, financially and politically, so legal system works in their favor,’ he said at the commission during his farewell meeting with reporters.
Ghulam Rahman said when he had joined the commission as chairman he termed the commission a toothless and clawless tiger. ‘After four years I repeat the commission remains a toothless and clawless tiger and this would continue until the loopholes of laws are removed,’ he said.
Terming the current ACC laws ‘ineffective’, he pointed out that it lacked the power to allow the ACC to arrest anyone or seize any property of offenders.
As a result, criminals often managed to escape, or evidences are destroyed, he said.
About the legal limitations, Rahman, who was also a former Chairman of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), said, “Both Hall-Mark and Destiny incidents are big graft cases. I was in favour for taking a quick decision but couldn’t because of the legal process.”
“Besides, we, the ACC, have to wait until the submission of the FIR (first information report) if we want to arrest anyone. As a result, the accused gets some breathing time.”
Stay orders from higher courts passed in connection with numerous cases restricted the ACC from making headway into cases, he said.
Ghulam Rahman admitted the fact that corruption has already been established like a culture in society, people being used to corruption in their day-to-day life.
Corruption will not stop until people start to hate it from their mind, he said.
‘I tried to complete at least charge sheets in some burning cases like Hallmark-Sonali Bank scam, Destiny Group scam but I failed to proceed with the cases because of recent controversies about my position,’ Ghulam Rahman said.
The outgoing ACC chief, who will complete his term on June 24, expressed his disappointment as he failed to fulfill people’s expectations from the commission in the last four years of his tenure.
‘The ACC works on the scheduled offences, but there are numerous corruptions which do not fall under the commission’s jurisdiction, like land grabbing by developer companies and forgery by recruiting agencies,’ he said.
Ghulam Rahman said that he was not successful during his term. ‘If at least 100 corrupt people could be put in jail before I leave the commission, I would say I am successful.’
However, he tried to pat himself when said that the commission has now become an institution of people’s trust but when he had joined the commission it was a controversial institution.
About the Padma Bridge issue, the ACC chief said the commission filed a case against seven people and mentioned two former ministers’ names in the first information report as suspects.
The commission interrogated 32 people apart from the two ministers — former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury. These 32 individuals did not say that the two ministers were involved with the corruption conspiracy, Ghulam said.
‘This is not correct that all the statements of the World Bank are true,’ he said. About the bribery charges in the Padma bridge project, he said: “We’ve always tried to probe the case with the highest transparency and neutrality. I cannot accept that what they (World Bank) have said at different times is right and that we have to act accordingly.”
A three-member World Bank external panel of experts, led by Louis Moreno-Ocampo, said in its report that the ACC’s investigation did not appear to be comprehensive and fair.
He said that the World Bank initially made allegation against prime minister’s economic adviser Moshiur Rahman, but its final report did not include his name, the ACC chief said.
Ghulam Rahman had joined as ACC chairman on June 24, 2009 after resiging from the post of chairman of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission.

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