Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina misappropriated $126 million from defense deals, report

Awami League President and prime minister Sheikh Hasina being taken to Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in the capital. photo by the daily star

Bangladesh’s Bureau of Anti-Corruption said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will face graft charges for buying a navy frigate at a high price while in office.

Sheikh Hasina is the prime minister of Bangladesh and also served as the prime minister from 1996 to 2001.

A businessman and four naval officers, including the country’s former navy chief, Nurul Islam, also face corruption charges for their involvement in the purchase of the warship. The charges were filed Sunday in a Dhaka court following a year-long investigation.

Sheikh Hasina’s government bought the frigate from a South Korean company at a cost of nearly $100 million dollars. Investigators say the lowest bid was $68 million.

BNS Bangabandhu named father of Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina appeared in court in Dhaka charged with involvement in a third corruption case, court officials said.

Hasina, who ran the country as head of the Awami League political party for five years until an election loss in 2001, has been charged with overspending public money when Bangladesh bought a $100 million frigate from South Korea in 2001.

She already faces two other corruption cases filed after she lost power, including one relating to the purchase of Mig-29 fighter aircraft from Russia. Hasina is accused of receiving $4 million facilitator payments to buy eight MiG-29 from Russia.

One source said The Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) sent a letter to the Director General of Defence Purchase (DGDP) asking him to supply documents of the Mig 29 purchase. A copy of the letter was sent to the Air Force Headquarters. While the Bureau received documents from the Air Force, it is yet to get any paper from the DGDP.

The Bureau is likely to file a dozen more corruption cases against prominent Awami leaders. It has completed primary investigations against Sheikh Hasina and former Awami ministers who include Amir Hossain Amu, Shah AMS Kibria, Tofael Ahmed, Mohammad Nasim, Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir and Prof Rafiqul Islam.

A spokesman for Sheikh Hasina’s party, Abdul Jalil, denies the charges, saying the deal was transparent, and alleges that the government is harassing her. The charges carry a prison term of up to five years.

Sheikh Hasina’s government inducted the sophisticated warship into the navy four months before she lost the election in 2001. The present government has decommissioned it, saying the frigate has construction problems.

Sheikh Hasina is also facing corruption charges in connection with buying eight Russian-made fighter planes at a cost of $900 million. The government says it plans to resell the jets, because the maintenance costs are too high.

The ruling Bangladesh National party and the main opposition Awami League party have a history of bitter and acrimonious relations.

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