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US blacklists former Bangladesh military chief over corruption

The United States on Monday put Bangladesh’s former army chief retired general Aziz Ahmed on a visa blacklist over accusations of accepting bribes and improperly awarding military contracts to benefit his family.

The State Department said that Ahmed and his immediate family members would be ineligible to enter the United States under a law that targets corruption. His actions have contributed to the undermining of Bangladesh’s democratic institutions and the public’s faith in public institutions and processes,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

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

The State Department said that Ahmed helped “his brother evade accountability for criminal activity in Bangladesh.”

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

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

The United States has generally had friendly relations with Bangladesh, including on security, with Hasina seen as a partner on a range of issues.

But Washington has been critical of what it sees as an undemocratic turn in Bangladesh and has previously restricted visas to Bangladeshis accused of undermining elections.

Source: BBC

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