Monday, 5 June, 2023

Defaulters' database on card as bad loans soaring

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 3rd May, 2023 12:52:55 PM
  • Print news

The government is developing a database of loan defaulter who embezzled the public money or laundered abroad illegally.

Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) has already begun scanning the issue in collaboration with Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and other law enforcement agencies.

Strict disciplinary action will be taken against those involved in money laundering, according to sources at related government offices.

The source informed that government aims at bringing transparency in financial sector ahead of national polls by recovering public money laundered different times.

Economists say that political will is important to take action against willful defaulters in home and abroad who involved in illegal money laundering.

The non-performing loan (NPL) in banking sector stood at Tk 1.2 trillion by end of last year. Of the total NPL volume, top defaulters hold Tk 165.87 billion.

Many defaulters have filed bankruptcy petitions with the court showing their bills. Again, most of the willful defaulters migrated to Dubai where various businesses including residential hotels have been built there.

Many defaulters have built second home in Malaysia. Many Bangladeshis owned residential facilities in Thailand, United Kingdom, USA and Canada using the laundered money.

Sources said that effective measures are being taken now to ensure that money is not laundered from the country again before the next parliamentary elections.

Bangladesh Bank is also maintaining strict monitoring to prevent money laundering in banking channels through fake invoicing.

Bangladesh ranks third among all the countries participating in the second home programme in Malaysia. A total of 4 thousand and 135 Bangladeshis have participated in the project till 2018. Meanwhile, at least 250 Bangladeshis have bought houses in Malaysia.

Bangladeshis are behind after Chinese and UK nationals when it comes to buying houses in Malaysia.

The residential area of Bangladeshis in Canada is known as Begumpara. Apart from this, many Bangladeshis have migrated to Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.

The government began action on those staying in the country and abroad by embezzlement of public money two and a half years ago.

On November 18 in 2020, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the government is collecting information about money laundering abroad.

"However, the same situation is not only in Canada, but also in Malaysia. But getting information is very difficult," he said considering challenges of the initiative of collecting data.

Sources said that after the Hallmark scam, another hotly debated incident in the banking sector was the Bismillah Group loan scam. The group took a loan of Tk 12 billion from six banks and defaulted on it.

Rather, the group's managing director Khawaja Sulaiman Anwar fled abroad overnight without paying the loan.

In between 2012 and 2013, Bismillah Group took a loan of about Tk 12 billion by showing fake documents. Later, the entire amount was smuggled abroad through fake LCs.

There are several cases in the name of Bismillah Group. And most of top executives of the company including Khawaja Sulaiman are on the run abroad.

Among them, Bismillah Group MD Khawaja Sulaiman Anwar and Chairman Noreen Habib along with some of the group's officials are now living in Dubai.

Regarding the issue, ACC Secretary Mahbub Hossain told media that anti-corruption commission is taking necessary steps when receiving complaints of money laundering.

Money laundering from Bangladesh increases before every parliamentary election, according to an analysis into the Bangladeshi accounts at in Swiss bank.

The amount of deposits of Bangladeshis in Swiss banks stood at Tk 58.68 billion before eleventh parliamentary election in 2018. The deposit was 13 billion higher year-on-year comparing to 45.72 billion in same period of 2017.

Similarly, during the 2014 parliamentary election year, Tk 26.33 billion was smuggled.

At the end of 2013, the amount of money deposited by Bangladeshis in Swiss banks was 48.07 billion whichb was 21.74 billion in 2012, according to a report published in June last year.

Bangladeshis have deposited money equivalent to about 30 billion in Swiss banks in one year. The deposit was Tk 82.75 billion in 2021, highest ever in the history. In 2020, it was 53.47 billion.

In this regard, Bangladesh Bank former governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed said that political will is needed to prevent money laundering of loans taken from banks.

"The law enforcement agencies should set an example by punishing a money launderer so that others will be afraid. Even if one company in a group defaults, another company in the same group is getting loans. If one institution in the group defaults, any other institution has to stop lending," Dr Salehuddin said.

The eminent ecologist suggested for cancelation of insurance benefits of the loan defaulting company.