BNP spent $3.75m on lobbyists: Shahriar

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State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said the government neither hired any lobbyist nor has a plan to do so while BNP has spent at least $3.75 million for a US lobbyist firm as part of their anti-Bangladesh campaign.

“The government has engaged with a firm for PR campaign, not to lobby but to project Bangladesh’s different successes stories in a positive way in the international media,” he told reporters at a briefing at the Foreign Ministry here.

Echoing his yesterdays’ parliament address, Alam said, so far they found eight documents which show that some US lobbyist firms were hired by Bangladeshi nationals.

“Out of those eight agreements, at least three were signed by BNP using its Naya Paltan office address as principal address,” he said.

Alam said they found at least four other documents which were signed on behalf of Jamaat using an address of New York instead of any local Bangladesh address.

“We believe those documents were signed on behalf of Jamaat as their different political issues, including ICT tribunal (International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh), were mentioned in the agreements to lobby,” the state minister said.

The BNP hired US lobbyist firms called, Akin Company Associates, Blue Star Strategies and Rasky Partners while Jamaat signed agreements with an organization named ‘Peace and justice’.

The junior minister said that they would forward the documents to the Bangladesh bank governor today to check whether BNP sent the money to the US firms legally with the approval of the central bank’s legal channel.

“If they sent the money without taking approval of the Bangladesh Bank, we expect the central bank will take legal steps as per the rules and inform the matter to the Election Commission (EC), he said.

As per the rules, each political party has to submit its account on expenditure and income to the EC.

The other documents are good enough for the EC to ask Jaamat-e-Islami too about the source of expenditure, Alam said.

Apart from these eight documents, available in the public domain, Alam said they do believe there are many more such agreements, signed by BNP and Jamaat with foreign lobbyists, which are still unavailable for public.