Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-18
Arafat "Koko" Rahman (United States)
Bangladesh
Son of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia (in office, 1991-1996, 2001-2006)
United States
Undertaking Recovery Efforts, Location of Recovery Effort
2008
2013
Art.16, Art.18, Art.23
Yes
Non-Conviction Based Confiscation
Other
NA
Criminal conviction in Bangladesh, US foreign bribery case settlement with Siemens and subsequent non-conviction based asset forfeiture action against proceeds located in Singapore; also, as noted by the law firm Edwards Wildman, "We understand that Mr Rahman’s conviction appears to have been partially based on the offence of illicit enrichment, the usual method of enforcement through the mutual legal assistance procedure was not available in Singapore. Illicit enrichment is an offence in some countries where a public official gains a significant increase in his assets which he/she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his/her lawful income. This is a crime that is generally not considered punishable in many countries like the UK and Singapore, making enforcement of a confiscation order based on such an offence complicated. Further, Singapore does not have a (non-conviction based) civil forfeiture procedure. Despite these hurdles, Singapore was nevertheless able to return the funds in the Fairhill account by using a legal tool called the ‘disposal inquiry’ mechanism. It would be prudent to add that one suspects that this particular mechanism was only viable because of the specific facts of this case." (Source: Antonio Suarez-Martines, "Civil forfeiture without borders: Bangladesh shows that where there’s political will there’s a way," Edwards Wildman, September 9, 2013.)
Completed
Assets Returned to Victim or Requesting Jurisdiction
Please see Singapore entry
No
No formal agreement but according to the Daily Star, the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission stated that the returned assets would be used for anti-corruption initiatives. (Source: Daily Star, "S'Pore returns Tk. 7.4 cr more," August 28, 2013.)
According to the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh, the U.S. and Bangladesh were engaged in joint efforts to recover Mr. Rahman's bribery proceeds held in Singaporean bank accounts.  (Source: Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh, "US, Bangladesh joint effort to retrieve Coco 'bribes'," News Updates - Jan 2009.)  According to the Daily Star, between November 2012 through August 2013, Singapore returned $2,661,070 to Bangladesh in confiscated assets and accrued interest.  (Source:  Daily Star, "S'Pore returns Tk. 7.4 cr more," August 28, 2013.)   In January 2009, the US Department of Justice had filed a civil asset forfeiture complaint against assets held in three Singapore bank accounts that the Department of Justice had alleged were bribery proceeds in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. (Source: U.S. v. All Assets Held in the Name of Zasz Trading and Consulting PTE Ltd., et. al, Case No. 1:09-cv-00021-JDB (D.D.C.), Amended Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem, filed August 21, 2009.)   On April 7, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a Default Judgment and Judgment of Forfeiture against the following: (1) all assets held in the name of ZASZ Trading and Consulting Pte Ltd., account number 352-015-540-4 (formerly 1093101397) held at the United Overseas Bank, Singapore and any properties traceable thereto; (2) up to and including $762,000 plus interest of the assets held in the name of Zulfikar Ali, account number 0174053746 at Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore and any property traceable thereto; and (3) up to and including $226,249 plus interest of the assets held in the name of Fazel Selim, account number 0174001770 at Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore and any property traceable thereto. (Source: U.S. v. All Assets Held in the Name of Zasz Trading and Consulting PTE Ltd., et. al, Case No. 1:09-cv-00021-JDB (D.D.C.), Memorandum Opinion and Order of Default Judgment and Judgment of Forfeiture, filed April 7, 2010.)  

According to the Press Trust of India, on June 23, 2011, Mr. Rahman was sentenced following his conviction in absentia on corruption charges. (Source: Press Trust of India, "Former Bangladeshi premier Khaleda Zia's younger son jailed for bribery," June 23, 2011.) According to the Daily Star, on April 27, 2011, Mr. Rahman's lawyers filed a petition to have his criminal case dismissed, pursuant to a February 9 ruling by the Bangladesh Supreme Court that acts committed before the passage of the Money Laundering Prevention Act of 2009 cannot be tried under it. The article stated that the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh would take action after scrutinizing the Supreme Court's decision and the relevant laws. (Source: The Daily Star, "Koko's lawyers for withdrawal of case," April 28, 2011, accessed at http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=183469.) The trial had begun in Bangladesh in January 2011; he was being tried in absentia. (Source: BDCAN, "Trial of Arafat Rahman begins," January 5, 2011).

Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh
Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh
Special Court
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section; Assistance by Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia