The special courts were set up by the military-backed government last month to try dozens of high-profile political figures charged with corruption.
Chowdhury was ordered to account for his wealth by the anti corruption commission after the military-backed government took power following the imposition of emergency rule in January.
Many others ordered to make similar submissions have been in detention for several months.
Among those arrested are Zia's influential elder son, Tareque Rahman, as well as former ministers and MPs of both Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and rival Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League.
At least half a dozen former ministers are due to be tried at the special courts set up at the national parliament building in the capital.
Chowdhury is the first BNP member to be given a jail sentence.
Last month Shamim Osman, a former Awami League MP, was jailed for three years for failing to submit his financial details.
The new government has vowed to clean up Bangladesh's corruption-riddled politics before holding elections by the end of 2008.