[Dhaka Correspondent] ACC (Anti-Corruption Commission) will not file any case against former prime minister Khaleda Zia in connection with alleged irregularities in Magurchhara gas field blow-out compensation and Phulbari coal project as the commission has found Khaleda not involved in the issues.
“After a preliminary inquiry, the commission has not found any evidence and witnesses to prove the allegations of irregularities in Magurchhara and Phulbari issues against Khaleda Zia,” ACC commission secretary, Mokles ur Rahman, told newsmen Thursday. “The inquiry against Khaleda in the issues will be suspended and no FIR will be filed as the allegations against her have no merit.”
Mokles said ACC officer Farid Uddin Ahmed conducted an inquiry into the allegations against Khaleda over the Magurchhara and Phulbari issues for more than a month and sought that the inquiry should be suspended.
Successive governments, including the immediate past BNP-led government, failed to realize Taka 3900 crore in compensation from the US company Chevron, a successor to Occidental, over the blow-out that took place in 1997 at Magurchhara gas field in Moulvibazar. There have been allegations that the Phulbari coal field was awarded to the UK-based Asia Energy without following the required procedure.
Replying to a query, Mokles said Chevron was paying 5% of additional gas to Petrobangla from Magurchhara in compensation for the blow-out after it signed a supplementary agreement in 2005. Petrobangla officials said the supplementary agreement that provided Petrobangla with 5% of additional gas was signed in 1998 to extend the original production sharing contract. The BNP-led government on July 1, 2002 asked Occidental to pay $685 million in compensation for Magurchhara blow-out.
As for Phulbari coal field, Mokles said the leasing of the Phulbari coal field was still under process, “As the leasing is still under process, there is no point in carrying out an inquiry.” BNP government in 1994 gave an exploration license to Australian BHP for the Phulbari coal field in reported violation of some rules and the Awami League government allowed BHP to hand over the license to Asia Energy. There have been allegations that the Asia Energy was awarded the exploration license by the government in such a way that it would need to provide the company with the mining license.
Replying to another query, Mokles said the commission was continuing with the inquiry into the allegations of irregularities against Khaleda and another former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in awarding Niko two gas fields.