Bangladesh refutes Padma corruption allegations
By Chris Sleight14 October 2011
Bangladesh's finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has hit back at the World Bank, claiming there has not been any corruption in the bidding process for the US$ 3.0 billion bridge. In September, the head offices of consultant and contractor SNC Lavalin were raided on allegations of corruption, and the World Bank is also investigating these claims.
But Mr Muhith has gone on record to defend the project. "So far, the land acquisition and rehabilitation process of the project has been completed and transparency in the process has been maintained."
However, allegations have been made of irregularities in the process that saw SNC-Lavalin short-listed for an overseeing role on the project. It is these allegations that are being investigated by Canadian police and the World Bank's Integrity vice presidency. The World Bank has said it will withhold funding to the scheme until the allegations of corruption have been resolved.
The Padma bridge is a 6.15 km road and rail link across the Padma river, which will link the southeast of the country to northern and eastern regions. The total budget for the project is US$ 3 billion, US$ 1.2 billion of which has been pledged by the World Bank. The Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank are also sponsors, along with the government of Japan.