(If you have problems reading the headline, please see this excellent page from Sachalayatan)
Writing isn’t always easy. With competing priorities and the need to write pieces that will engage readers, sometimes I have stared at the computer for a while between sentences. But then again, sometimes the stories just pour out of me. In this case, the headline of this story was absolutely spontaneous. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with it, this is an old Bangla phrase, not my creation.
Before going into the details, lets examine the facts:
- Siemens, a Telecom and IT giant, recently agreed to pay a US$ 1.3 billion fine to the US and German governments to settle a number of bribery charges.
- Out of is huge amount, Siemens Bangladesh will pay US$ 500,000 to the US government to settle charges that in 2004, it bribed government officials and Arafat Rahman Koko, son of the then prime minister, Khaleda Zia
- The government of Singapore froze assets amounting to Tk. 11,66,00,000 (eleven crore sixty six lacs) belonging to Arafat Rahman Koko.
On December 19th, one of BNP’s joint secretary-generals, claimed that this is an effort by the Anti-Corruption Commission to hurt BNP, because ACC did this briefing before any investigation. This was done at a press conference held at Mrs. Zia’s office. Conspicuously absent from this press conference was any claim that this money did not belong to Mr. Rahman, or that he had a legitimate source for this income and a legitimate and legal reason to bank this money outside Bangladesh.
On December 22, Mirza Abbas, another joint secretary-general, came back with this:
The ACC’s move to freeze the bank account of Koko, youngest son of former premier Khaleda Zia is clearly in violation of the electoral code of conduct and it also went against the interest of BNP.
This is a real headscratcher. Mr. Rahman is not a candidate in this election. How is this a violation of electoral code of conduct? Just because his mother is a former PM, he should get immunity from anti-corruption investigations?
To be fair, I agree that this may tarnish the image of BNP. But in that case, I have two pieces of advice to BNP:
- 1. If BNP can, deny that the funds frozen in Singapore belong to Mr. Arafat Rahman
- 2. If BNP can not deny that, explain why he was banking so much money outside the country (which is against Bangladeshi laws), and show that he paid income tax on that income
Remember: If you are not prepared to do the time, don’t commit the crime