The Election Commission (EC) has said it does not have the capacity to investigate the allegations of hiring lobby firms in the United States by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
"The commission does not have the legal framework and capacity to probe whether BNP had spent money abroad," EC Secretary Md Humayun Kabir Khandaker told journalists at the commission's media centre in the capital on Thursday.
"In addition, the legal framework of the commission does not cover issues related to money laundering," he said after a meeting of the Election Commission.
At the meeting, he said, the commission discussed the letter sent by the state minister for foreign affairs regarding the appointment of lobbyists by BNP at length.
For the last few months, the government and BNP have been bringing allegations against each other of hiring lobby firms in the United States.
"We have reviewed audit reports submitted to the commission by registered political parties. The BNP's audit report does not contain any information that any money has been spent on hiring lobbyists abroad," the secretary added.
He said if designated government agencies investigated the money-laundering allegations and put forward the report to the commission, then the EC will review it.
Replying to a question, he said since Jamaat-e-Islami is not registered with the commission, it has nothing to do with the party.
The EC secretary said that the decision of the commission would be communicated to the state minister for foreign affairs.
Asked if the commission has a scope to take action if the appointment of lobbyists is proved, he said, "If such a matter was proved and the commission was informed, then it will decide (on the next course of action)."
Asked whether the commission is looking into the allegations of hiring lobby firms by the Awami League too, Md Humayun Kabir Khandaker said, "We have not yet received any such complaint. Nothing like that came up in today's meeting."
Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, election commissioners Rafiqul Islam and Begum Kabita Khanam were present at the meeting.
Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder, who has recently recovered from coronavirus disease, went to the commission today but did not attend the meeting as he had an appointment with his doctor, according to sources at the commission.
Election Commissioner Brigadier General (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury was not present at today's commission meeting owing to the illness of his wife.