Thursday, 29 September, 2022

Tackle money laundering mercilessly

According to the World Bank, Bangladesh has been among the fastest growing economies globally over the past decade. But, in recent times, its impressive economic growth faces challenges. The reason is the curse of money laundering which continues to be a major problem in the country. The main vulnerability for money laundering remains the use of the underground ‘hundi’ system, used to transfer money and valuables bypassing the formal banking system. The greatest use of the hundi system is to repatriate wages from the expatriate Bangladeshi workers. As per a report of this newspaper’s yesterday issue, around Tk 750 billion ($7.8 billion) has been laundered through hundi by 5,000 agents of mobile financial services (MFC) in the past one year.

Sections of Bangladeshi expatriates send the money to their family members through the agents of bKash, Rocket, Nagad and others instead of sending the money through banking channels. As a result, the government has been deprived of huge revenue. Presently, the country is struggling with the menace which causes various economic problems. One such problem came in the form of the price of the US dollar seeing an upward trend in the country. The price of the dollar has increased against the taka because of the phenomenon. The trend is highly alarming at a time when forex reserves are sliding due to high import payments against the slower-than-expected export earnings. According to a press report, Bangladesh Bank made $1.47 billion ACU payment for July and August on Wednesday. As to why, the country’s forex reserves have declined further to $37.2 billion after the ACU payment for imports from Asian countries.

Bangladesh is allegedly one of the top countries in terms of illicit financial flows. It has lost billions of dollars following trade misinvoicing made by unscrupulous traders. A number of reports released by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in recent times have pinpointed Bangladesh as being among the worst affected countries to the scourge of trade-based money laundering (TBML). As per informed sources, millions of taka is being illegally remitted from the country every year. Bangladesh is in danger of being branded as a ‘risky’ country when it comes to money laundering.  Strict action is needed against money launderers who are behind the country’s economic haemorrhage. Money laundering should be treated as a formidable foe for the country.