Bangladesh cancels Chinese road construction project on corruption charges

ANI | Updated: Jan 24, 2018 09:54 IST

Dhaka, [Bangladesh], Jan.24 (ANI): Bangladesh has cancelled a road construction project with a major Chinese company which was building the Dhaka Sylhet highway on charges of attempting to bribe Bangladeshi officials and has blacklisted the firm from participating in any future ventures, according to a Voice of America (VoA) report.

'"China Harbor Engineering Co., Ltd. (CHEC) has been blacklisted by the government of Bangladesh for bribing government officials and will not be allowed to participate in any future construction projects in Bangladesh," the report quoted Bangladeshi Finance Minister AMA Muhith from an interview given to the Bangladeshi media The Daily Star.

The company, in the past, has undertaken some well-known projects, including Pakistan's Gwadar Port and Sri Lanka's Hanbatota Port.

The company, according to Muhit, was found bribing newly-appointed director of the Bangladesh Highway Transport and Bridges Department for the purpose of diverting project funds.

The finance minister said about 5 million Taka Bangladesh (about $ 60,000) were offered to him.

Muhit said due to the bribe incident they had to "cancel the cooperation of this project" and blacklist the company.

According to the VoA report, uneasiness has been simmering between the two nations for a while now due to the terms of investments and then over other bribery-related incidents.

In October 2016, when Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh, he lent USD 21.5 billion for 26 projects.

However, at the time of negotiating specific projects, Chinese companies tried to change the amount of investment that the original government agreed upon.

Reportedly, when Bangladesh expressed its displeasure with the Chinese government, the latter did not take any constructive action.

The report, citing Bangladeshi media, also pointed out the Chinese construction firm, the CHEC, has earlier also engaged in corruption and tried to bribe Bangladeshi officials.

The company had paid bribes to kin of a Bangladeshi political party and the son of the former shipping minister for securing a port project. The two senior officials were later arrested for money laundering abroad and sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

It remains to be seen how the latest incident and blacklisting of the company affects the relations between China and Bangladesh. (ANI)