US Blacklists Former Bangladesh Military Chief Aziz Ahmed over Corruption

Tue May 21 2024
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WASHINGTON, United States: The United States on Monday placed former Bangladeshi army chief Aziz Ahmed on a visa blacklist over allegations of accepting bribes and improperly awarding military contracts to his family.

The State Department said retired general Aziz Ahmed and his immediate family members would not be eligible to enter the United States under the law, which targets corruption.

In a statement, Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, said, “His actions have contributed to the undermining of Bangladesh’s democratic institutions and the public’s faith in public institutions and processes”.

Ahmed was the subject of an Al Jazeera documentary in 2021, which alleged that he cashed in on his position to live in luxury and that he helped two brothers flee overseas to escape Bangladeshi law enforcement.

The State Department said Ahmed helped “his brother avoid responsibility for criminal activities in Bangladesh”.

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He also worked closely with his brother to ensure the improper award of military contracts and accepted bribes in exchange for government appointments for his personal benefit, it added.

Ahmed, who retired in 2021, has risen through the ranks as an ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was sworn in for a fifth term this year after elections boycotted by the opposition.

The United States has generally friendly relations with Bangladesh, including on security, with Hasina seen as a partner on a range of issues, including shared concerns about Islamist extremism.

But Washington has criticized what it sees as an undemocratic turn in Bangladesh and has previously restricted visas for Bangladeshis accused of disrupting the election.

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