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Tk 730bn laundered a year thru gold smuggling

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 14 August, 2022 12:00 AM
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Tk 730bn laundered a year thru gold smuggling

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Bangladesh Jeweller's Association (BAJUS) has claimed that Tk 730 billion is laundered per year through gold smuggling.

“In a recent assessment, we have found that gold worth Tk 2 billion is being smuggled into the country every day. So the smuggling of gold causes money laundering of Tk 730 billion a year,” Enamul Haque Khan, Chairman of BAJUS Standing Committee on Anti-Smuggling and Law Enforcement, told reporters at a briefing at its head office in the capital on Saturday.

 “Bangladesh is being used as a route for smuggling gold. It is an established fact. Regular surveillance by the intelligence agencies is necessary to address this issue,” he added.

On behalf of BAJUS President Sayem Sobhan Anvir, the trade body has also urged Bangladesh Bank (BB) and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to assess the economic impact of gold smuggling.

It also requested the government to dismantle the gold smuggling syndicate by conducting more drives.

The BAJUS arranged the briefing amid a setback in jewellery industry, a rise in gold smuggling syndicates at home and abroad and money laundering using the precious metal.

It proposed forming a separate government monitoring cell involving business leaders to identify gold smugglers and also underscored a need for amending laws to address gold smuggling.

The trade body expressed interest in conducting a joint survey with Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue to find out the impact of the dollar crisis and smuggling due to misuse of the facility of bringing gold bars and ornaments under the Baggage Rule.

The BAJUS leaders also said the share of gold coins coming illegally into the country is not being noticed by the law enforcement agencies, paving the way for the smuggling of gold into the country.

The trade body also suggested forming an anti-gold smuggling cell involving BAJUS to support the law enforcement agencies in market monitoring.

The committee’s vice chairman Bidhan Malakar, member secretary Ikbal Uddin, and members Swapan Chandra Karmakar, Bikash Ghosh, Nazrul Islam, and Babul Rahman were present at the briefing at Bashundhara City shopping complex.       The BAJUS leaders claimed that money laundering through gold smuggling by a group of greedy businessmen has created a negative impact on the country’s foreign currency reserve.

A tiny portion of smuggled gold is detected by law enforcement agencies, according to BAJUS.

Enamul Haque Khan said BAJUS is conducting research to find out the demand and supply of gold in the country as there is no official data available now.

Earlier, BAJUS president Sayem Sobhan Anvir wrote to the home and finance ministers and the National Board of Revenue chairman, urging them to give the members of law enforcement agencies and customs 25 percent of gold recovered during drives as a reward.

BAJUS, a platform of 40,000 jewellery retailers, made the proposal to encourage the law enforcers to strengthen their efforts to prevent gold smuggling.

BAJUS claimed that illegal gold ornaments and bars worth Tk 2 billion are being smuggled into Bangladesh in exchange for foreign currencies every day by water, land and air routes.

The BAJUS leaders mentioned that the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has put the whole world economy in the face of a major disaster. 

The prices of other foreign currencies, including the US dollar, are constantly increasing in the country. This has been affecting the global gold market.

In recent times, the country’s jewellery industry has faced a multi-pronged crisis due to the continued excessive price and crisis of the US dollar, as well as the rising prices of other foreign currencies and reckless smuggling.

The price of the US dollar in the country has gone up to Tk 118 per unit in the open market. In such a situation, domestic and foreign syndicates of smugglers have spread instability in the gold market.

“By creating an artificial crisis, the price of gold is constantly being increased in the local market. The wholesale market of gold has become hostage to the syndicate. They have deep ties with smuggling syndicate,” according to BAJUS.

The trade body claimed several syndicates of these smugglers are believed to be involved in gold smuggling abroad while the syndicates have a connection with the ongoing dollar crisis and money laundering.

In such a situation, BAJUS recommends ensuring strong action and punishment by law enforcement agencies as there is no alternative to drastic measures to bring order to the gold market.

BAJUS believes that law enforcement agencies have a glorious role in maintaining law and order and peace across the country.

“The members of law enforcement agencies are working tirelessly to maintain order and a fair business environment in the country. They have been conducting various operations consistently so that no miscreants, or smugglers can conduct anti-national and illegal activities. Many smugglers have been prosecuted. It increases the revenue of the government. We request the authorities to issue necessary instructions to all government agencies so that no smugglers can bring gold or ornaments into the country and smuggle them abroad through illegal means,” it said.

To deal with the ongoing crisis in the jewellery industry, the speakers said, BAJUS is making a strong demand to the government to formulate hallmark policies and diamond policies to improve the quality of jewellery products.

BAJUS standing committee on anti-Smuggling and law enforcement has already started working on this matter, officials informed the meeting.

According to government guidelines, there are four gold standards across the country, namely 18, 21, 22 and 24. A value below 99.5 is not acceptable under any circumstances in the case of pure gold and all hallmarking companies should test the gold according to government guidelines.