Corruption charges against former B'desh PM

  • AFP, Dhaka
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 05, 2009 18:51 IST

Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday filed charges against former premier Khaleda Zia and her eldest son for allegedly embezzling money meant for an orphanage, officials said.

Zia and her son Tareque Rahman were accused of "gobbling up" 21 million taka (305,000 dollars) donated to an orphanage trust named after Zia's husband, the late president Ziaur Rahman, a senior commission official told AFP.

This is the first case to be filed against Zia since her bitter political rival, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, stormed back to power in December 29 elections.

"We investigated the case and found that Tareque Rahman and her mother gobbled up the money meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust. They did it with help from the then principal secretary of the premier," said the official, who declined to be identified.

The orphanage was never built and the money was siphoned off through Zia and Rahman's aides, he alleged.

Secretary of the commission Khandaker Asaduzzaman confirmed to AFP that the charges had been filed, but declined to elaborate.

Zia who leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party is a two-time former premier. Her party was crushed in the last parliamentary elections by Hasina's Awami League party.

Both Hasina and Zia were detained for a year until the middle of 2008 as part of an anti-corruption crackdown launched by the then army-backed caretaker government.

Rahman, seen as a likely successor of Zia, was also detained by the interim government. He was freed late last year and is currently undergoing medical treatment in Britain.

Earlier in March, Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman Koko was charged with laundering more than 2.7 million dollars through bank accounts in Singapore, Last December, Singaporean authorities froze assets worth 1.6 million US dollars associated with a company Koko established in 2004 after the Bangladeshi government asked them to launch an investigation.


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