THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has identified 1,050 Bangladeshi citizens who have invested in Malaysia to build second home under the ‘Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)’ programme.
As the ACC earlier failed to collect information by sending Mutual Legal Assistance Requests (MLR), the commission has now taken fresh initiative to collect information and evidence about the MM2H seekers.
The commission will now send MLR to Malaysia for collecting specific evidence about the aforesaid Bangladeshi citizens.
The ACC officials confirmed the figure of the identified Bangladeshi nationals but they declined to disclose details in the interest of investigation.
ACC sources said ACC has prepared a list of 1050 Bangladeshi people who have invested in Malaysia for the second home scheme. After getting the proof of investment by the 1050 people in Malaysia, ACC sent a letter to the passport office seeking detailed information about them.
On August 12, a letter signed by ACC Deputy Director Zulfikar Ali was sent to the Directorate of Immigration and Passports seeking information of the 1,050 people about their permanent and current addresses, and details of passports.
In the letter, the commission also asked the passport office to send the information in this regard to the ACC by August 30.
Earlier, the ACC had sent MLRs to the Malaysian authorities about a number of VIPs seeking information. Though ACC got reply of the MLRs, it did not found detailed information.
Mentioning reasons, the Malaysian authorities said providing information about all individuals together is out of the Malaysian government’s policy. They requested to send MLR along with information against identified persons, the ACC sources added.
An ACC official said investing in Second Home Project in Malaysia is not a real crime. “But we want to know that whether the person sent the money through money laundering or legally. Our target is to find out the crimes regarding money laundering”.
Earlier in August, 2014, the ACC started its investigation on charges of laundering around Tk 5000 crore abroad in the name of investment in second home project. The ACC interrogated some 100 people from the list of Immigration and Passport Directorate during the investigation.
A three-member ACC team, led by its Deputy Director Zulfikar Ali, is conducting the investigation. The two other members of the team are Assistant Directors Salah Uddin Ahmed and Manjurul Islam.
The Malaysian government started the MM2H programme in 2002. A total of 3,546 Bangladeshis have so far availed the offer from 2003 to February 2017, according to the Malaysian government website.
Usually, foreign nationals can avail 30-day visa to stay in Malaysia, but if they applied under the MM2H programme, they can get residential permit for five years there.
As per the rules, to settle in Malaysia under its MM2H programme, for instance, one needs to show liquid assets worth at least RM 500,000 (about Tk 1.22 crore) and offshore income of RM 10,000 (about Tk 2.45 lakh) per month.
Though the programme started in 2002, Bangladeshi people started investing in 2003 with 32 people, and 204 Bangladeshis availed offer in 2004, 852 in 2005, 341 in 2006, 149 in 2007, 68 in 2008, 86 in 2009, 74 in 2010, 276 in 2011, 388 in 2012, 285 in 2013, and 250 in 2014, 205 in 2015, 283 in 2016 and 53 in January and February of the current year.
Bangladesh has ranked the third position among the top 10 countries after China and Japan to avail the Second Home programme. Highest 852 Bangladeshis availed the opportunity in 2005. Currently, Bangladeshi citizens have 10.6 percent share in the programme.
The Malaysian government website also shows the number of Bangladeshis settling in the country rises when election comes around. As many as 852 Bangladeshis settled there in 2005, ahead of the 2007 ninth parliament polls. The number was 388 in 2012, just before the 10th national election.
To avail the MM2H, every applicant has to transfer at least $82,000 (about Tk 6.4 million)
An applicant has to open a fixed account with any bank in Malaysia by depositing RM 0.3 million ($82,000). After one year, 50 per cent of the deposit could be withdrawn but minimum balance has to be RM0.15 million for 10 years.
As every applicant has to transfer at least $82,000 or around Tk 6.4 million to avail the second-home benefit. By this calculation, at least $29,07,72,000 has illicitly been transferred to Malaysia.
According to the Foreign Exchange Regulatory Act 1947 Section 5 (1), no one can send money from the country abroad without Bangladesh Bank approval.
There are allegations that violating the rule, the Bangladeshi people transferred the money for the second home programme illegally, as none was required to take approval from the competent authority in Bangladesh.