May 26, 2008 / 7:36 AM / 11 years ago

Bangladesh plans truth body to tackle corruption

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s interim government has cleared the setting up of a Truth and Accountability Commission to give businessmen an opportunity to disclose details of corrupt deals, a government spokesman said on Monday.

The government, which has launched a crackdown on corruption and abuse of power by politicians and officials, is hoping that the setting up of the commission will help remove a climate of fear that businessmen say has hurt investment.

“The government has approved the draft law of the Truth and Accountability Commission,” Syed Fahim Munaim, a spokesman for the head of the interim government head, Fakhruddin Ahmed, told reporters.

Fahim said businessmen appearing before the commission to give details of fraudulent deals will not be tried for those crimes. They will have to give up their wealth acquired through those deals and give an undertaking not to commit any more crimes.

People admitting their guilt before the Truth Commission will be barred for five years from contesting in any elections, officials said.

More than 170 key political figures, including two former prime ministers, dozens of ex-ministers and businessmen have been detained since the government launched the crackdown in January 2007.

Politicians, business leaders and economists have accused Fakhruddin’s government of indiscriminately arresting traders and entrepreneurs which they say has scared many away from any economic activity.

“Checking corruption and maintaining momentum of the economic and industrial growth are the two cardinal objectives of the measure,” Fahim said about the commission.

People who have already been convicted cannot appear before the commission, he said. But those who have not yet been tried can make use of the facility.

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