Fresh move to bring back the laundered money

Sohel Hossain Patwary

21 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Against the backdrop of growing concerns over money laundering, the government has taken fresh move to bring back the laundered money from Swiss banks and other places abroad.

Sources said a decision has recently been taken at a recent working committee meeting on preventing money laundering.

Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), a government agency that investigates money laundering, has been given a task to prepare a concrete report on the money laundered abroad.

The BFIU has been directed to set up a close contact with Swiss banks for exchanging information and review the strategies of different countries like India, the United States on how they deal with the laundered money abroad.

If needed, they are asked to make arrangement over a deal towards this direction as the Swiss bank authorities do not provide any information without a bilateral deal.

Two other major authorities like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) have been asked to extend its full support to BFIU for preparing a report, meeting sources said.

The BFIU was also asked to recommend all sorts of initiatives in the report to bring back the laundered money from different countries.

 At the meeting, top officials of the Finance Ministry, the BFIU, the ACC, the NBR and Bangladesh Securities Exchange Commission (BSEC) were present at the meeting.

At the meeting, it was discussed that India and the United States of America have taken initiatives to bring back money through inking deals with the Swiss banks authorities.

If needed, Bangladesh should study the Indian and US procedure towards the money laundering and have to bring effective way out so that Bangladesh can bring back the money siphoned off to different countries.

The BFIU will have to keep close contacts and arrange quarterly meeting with all law enforces agencies to assess all reports given by BFIU to the agencies, meeting decided.

“The BFIU and some other government departments have decided to work together to find a strategy to bring back the stolen or smuggled money from abroad,” BFIU head Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hasan, also Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank, told the daily sun.

He also said the NBR is working relentlessly and has already got some information while the BFIU has also some information.

“We are working on how we can use such information effective way,” he said.

While asked about the bilateral difficulties in bringing back the laundered money, he said there are some difficulties, but Bangladesh is trying its best through all procedures.

The volume of money laundering from Bangladesh is growing in many ways through illegal channel making the country’s economy vulnerable.

Bangladesh Bank has detected cases of money laundering involving Tk 4,000 crore last year and the BFIU is dealing with the cases.

Swiss National Bank’s latest report published in June says Bangladeshi’s deposits in Swiss banks increased by 28.33 percent year-on-year in 2018 to Tk 5,341 crore.

The amount was Tk 4,064 crore in 2017, Tk 5,575 crore in 2016 and Tk 4,423 crore in 2015, according to the report. But, there was no evidence that all the money is illegal.

Sources said if any country wants to have information on banks details, they need to have bilateral agreement. After that, information will have to be sought specifically by name mentioning passport number to get details of the smuggled money.

While giving information, the Swiss banks authorities ensure two facts - information will not be used as political tool and won’t harass their customer.

But, they take tax evasion issue very seriously and if there is any specific evidence of tax evasion or an order of the court, the customer’s information would get quickly.