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Agencies in search of laundered money

Published : 04 Dec 2020 09:54 PM | Updated : 05 Dec 2020 12:24 AM

Different agencies of the government have become active extensively in search of assets of Bangladeshis abroad as well as money laundered to different countries.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) and other intelligence agencies have geared up in this regard following a recent statement of the Foreign Minister.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at a function said that information has been gathered about Bangladeshis who have made their home in Toronto of Canada. The Foreign Minister also mentioned that most among those who have made home in Canada are Bangladesh government officials.

According to sources, in the last 12 years, at least Tk 25,000 crore has been laundered from Bangladesh to different countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Switzerland, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.

Officials of the BFIU said they have not yet received any specific information about government officials, who made homes and laundered property abroad. They, however, are working on a strategy to stop laundering.

Economists said there is no shortage of laws in the country to stop money laundering. They opined for the political will of the government in this regard.

AK Abdul Momen, however, further said that information about assets of Bangladeshis they received was not based on any official or government survey. No verified report is received so far. The information has been collected personally. Even, it is not clear about how they sent the money there.

ACC Chairman, Iqbal Mahmud, said the ACC has the legal authority to investigate money laundering by government officials.

The ACC Chairman said, “The ACC is investigating the government officials who have laundered money abroad and made homes in different countries, including at Begumpara of Toronto in Canada.”

"No one is above the law”, the ACC Chairman said and continued saying that the commission wants to bring those involved into the legal framework, no matter how strong they are.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, a special fellow of the Center for Policy Dialogue, a government research institution, said a political solution is important to stop money laundering, not any technical one is needed.

He also opined that there is no shortage of laws in the country.

These laws are not effective due to lack of political will. However, when instructions come from the highest levels of government, they are implemented quickly.

He said casino business and many other corruptions have been stopped as there was government will.

The economist said that the reason for taking money abroad is that the high-ranking people of the country do not believe in the bright future of Bangladesh.

“Especially those who are the beneficiaries from the administrative, political and social structure, do not have confidence in the future of Bangladesh. Besides, the income of many is not legal. That is why they want to take money abroad. Because they do not feel safe to keep money in this country”, he said.

BFIU chief Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hasan said, they have not yet received any list of money laundering of government officials whom the Foreign Minister has spoken of.

“But we are working on it. If the law enforcement forces ask us for any information, they will be assisted,” he said.

He said, a strategy is being prepared under the direction of the ministry to stop money laundering and bring back money from abroad. Its work has already progressed somewhat.

According to the BFIU chief, bringing back laundered money is not the work of a single organisation. It involves the Attorney General's Office and other agencies. Everyone is working from their own place.