Watchdog says no corruption in Bangladesh bridge project

Citing lack of tangible evidence, a Bangladeshi commission has ended its probe of fraud allegations that contributed to delays in the $2.9 billion donor-backed infrastructure project.

Golam Rahman, head of Bangladesh’s Anti Corruption Commission, said Feb. 2 the body “does not think that there has been any corruption” in the tender process and preliminary selections of the Padma River bridge project, BDNews24 reports.

The commission’s findings, however, may not be enough for donors to release the funds they pledged for the project.

The World Bank and Canada are still conducting their own investigations into allegations of fraud and corruption in the project’s tender process. The World Bank recently extended the activation deadline of the $1.2 billion loan it promised for the project. It said it will decide on whether to release the funds after the issue is fully resolved.

>> World Bank extends Padma Bridge loan activation deadline

>> World bank delays Padma Bridge funding

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has previously hinted that Bangladesh will refuse the World Bank’s assistance if the multilateral lender cannot prove the fraud allegations. Hasina’s government has started looking at other sources of funds for the project and on Jan. 31, it received an offer of aid from Malaysia.

The Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency also pledged funding for the construction of the bridge. Both agencies, however, have delayed the release of their funds following World Bank’s lead.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.