Bangladeshi deposits in Swiss banks rise by 29pc

Bangladeshi deposits in Swiss banks rise by 29pc

Sujay Mahajan, Dhaka | Prothom Alo  Jun 28, 2019

SNB Swiss National Bank in Zurich. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsDeposits by Bangladeshi nationals in Swiss banks have increased by nearly 29 per cent or Tk 12 billion in the election year 2018, revealed the annual report ‘Banks in Switzerland-2018’ released by Switzerland’s central bank Swiss National Bank (SNB) on Thursday.

According to the report, the amount of money deposited by Bangladeshi nationals in different banks in 2018 was about 620 million Swiss francs that amounts to Tk 53.59 billion. In 2017, the total deposit was 481 million Swiss francs or Tk 41.60 billion.

Incidentally, the exchange rate for Swiss francs in Bangladeshi taka was Tk 86.43 on Thursday.

However, compared to 2016, the deposits in Swiss banks by Bangladeshis decreased in 2017. The Swiss bank keeps the sources of money secret.

According to the SNB data, the amount of money deposited by the Bangladeshis in the Swiss banks increased in the year of the national election 2014. In 2013, the amount of money deposited by Bangladeshis in different Swiss banks was 371.9 million Swiss francs, which is Tk 32.14 billion in Bangladeshi currency. In 2014, it increased to nearly 510 million Swiss francs or Tk 40.8 billion.

Executive director of Policy Research Institute (PRI) Ahsan H Mansur told Prothom Alo, “We have seen in past that money laundering increases in the election year.  Similar evidence is seen in the SNB report.”

“We saw import expenditure increase by 25 per cent last year according to the Bangladesh Bank data. It can be assumed that a portion of that was transferred to Switzerland,” he added.

Meanwhile, the amount of deposits from India and Pakistan decreased while Bangladeshi deposits surged. Incidentally, the Indian government has an agreement with the Swiss government to exchange information regarding the deposits by Indian nationals. The Indian government recently collected information about the country’s many money launderers from Switzerland. However, this did not happen in case of Bangladesh.

According to the law, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) monitored the matter of money laundering from the country. BFIU head Abu Hena Md Raji Hasan said, “ Switzerland’s central bank published all information about the deposits by Bangladeshi nationals in the annual report. Some of them are Bangladeshi expatriates. Therefore, it cannot be said that all the money deposited were transferred by laundering.”

“We tried to collect the depositors’ identities in many ways but to no avail. However, we are trying to know the process of how India has been collecting information from Switzerland,” he added.

*This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat