Money laundering must be stopped

A. M. K. Chowdhury

There are some fortunate persons who can transfer money abroad by using their influence in political establishments and administrative machinery of the government.  News report said some $ 1.78 billion equivalent to Tk. 13,732 crore  in 2012, $ 60 crore equivalent to Tk. 4630 crore in 2011, Taka 20 thousand 576 crore in 2006, Taka 18 thousand 794 crore in 2007 was siphoned off out of Bangladesh. (The Bangladesh Pratidin, dated December 18, 2014).
The Bangladesh Bank wrote three letters to Swiss National Bank (SNB) to return the money of Bangladesh. Dr. Atiur Rahman, governor of Bangladesh Bank, wrote a letter to SNB on June 26 last to come to an agreement in this regard. But the SNB did not give any reply to it as yet. (ibid, dated January 2, 2015).
Arms trader Musa Bin Shamser, who played a controversial role in 1971, in an interrogation with the Anti – Corruption Commission (ACC) said the SNB seized his $ billion equivalent to Tk. 51 thousand crore. If he could realize the money from the SNB he would then contribute to construction of the Padma bridge, welfare of the distressed government employees including teachers and other social development work. (ibid, dated December 19, 2014).

Tk 3,168 crore 37 lakh in Swiss banks
A news report  said the volume of  money deposited by Bangladeshis in Swiss banks by the end of 2013 rose to around $41 crore 40 lakh (Tk 3,168 crore  37 lakh). In the previous year, the amount was Tk. 1,908 crore. It is the sum total of the amount deposited in different banks by various individuals and organisations of Bangladesh. There are many banks in Switzerland like commercial banks in Bangladesh. The SNB report shows that money deposited by Bangladeshis was the highest in 2013 compared to other times over the last decade. The volume of money deposited in Swiss banks by Bangladeshis had risen by 62 per cent in one year. Before that the amount of such deposit was high in 2007 to the tune of over Tk. 2,000 crore. (The Daily Sun, dated June 22, 2014).
Prime  Minister Sheikh Hasina while addressing a discussion organized by the Dhaka City unit of Awami League (AL) marking the  65th founding anniversary of the party at Suhrawardi Udyan alleged  that Begum Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman laundered thousands of Taka from the country. It is the AL which brought back the laundered money from abroad. All money stashed away in  Swiss banks would be brought back soon, she said. (The Independent, dated June 28, 2014)
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while participating in the discussion on the proposed budget for 2014 -15 fiscal year said her government had quite successfully contained corruption, terrorism and militancy and brought back the laundered money home. “Even, we have wanted the list of those who have deposited money with the Swiss banks. And through this, the faces of those who have deposited money  with the Swiss Bank would come to the surface,” she said. (The Daily Observer, dated June  29, 2014).

Judge acquitted Tarique of money laundering accusation
A news report said a Dhaka court acquitted BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) senior  vice-chairman Tarique Rahman in a high –profile money laundering case. Mohammad Motahar Hossain, judge of the Special Judge Court – 3 in his verdict said that Tarique  Rahman had withdrawn $50,000 from the Citibank NA in Singapore account of his business partner Giasuddin Al Mamun by using supplementary credit cards on different dates. The court also said the BNP leader Tarique Rahman had spent the money for medical treatment and shopping in Singapore between 2003 and 2006. The amount had been mentioned in his wealth statement which he submitted to the ACC. The judge said that Tarique Rahman was acquitted of the money laundering allegation as no evidence was found against him. (The Independent, dated November 18, 2013)
Another news report said Judge  Mohammad Motaher Hossain left the ountry for Malayasia after 53 days of delivering the judgement in the money laundering case  against Tarique Rahman. The ACC  sent  a request to the Malayasian government for all information related to judge Muhammad Motahar Hossain as an inquiry was going on into his moveable and immovable properties. The ACC had launched a probe against judge Motahar Hossain following specific allegations scrutinized by a three – member team that found evidences of irregularity in his verdict. (The New Age, dated October 23, 2014).

Rich people feel unsafe
The Daily Star in its editorial dated June 22, 2014 said that hundreds of millions of dollars are being laundered through informal channels such as “hundi” goes to show that, rich people feel unsafe to keep their deposits in the country. It also goes show the inefficiency of anti-laundering activities by the government to deal with the situation. The over-invoicing for imports of capital machinery in an investment-stagnant economy speaks volume of the irregularities that exist in a largely-unregulated system.
The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) advised the government to take advantage of the relevant legel instruments, including UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), to bring back stolen assets and  bring to justice those involved in money – laundering. The TIB said illicit flight of capital had reached alarming levels, costing as high as 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) . (The Daily Observer, dated June 29, 2014)
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said some $ 370 crore was transferred to India as remittance in 2013. The Bangladesh Bank and the government should verify whether the amount was transferred to India as remittance  or not. (The Daily Naya Diganta, dated January 4, 2015)
It is needless to say, money laundering through informal channels ruin economy. Such practice should be stopped. Money launderers should be brought to book without considering their political identity.

Source: Weekly Holiday

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