Money laundering major obstacle to development

The illegal capital flight has been identified as a major challenge in achieving country’s development goal, experts said. They said this at a seminar on ‘National Strategic Papers on Prevention Money Laundering and Terrorism’ organised by finance ministry at hotel Intercontinental in the city.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, at the seminar, said, “It is a national issue. It destroys mankind and the entire economy. Hence, we will somehow remove all enemies for developing the nation.”

“It is also a global phenomenon. Global community should come forward and work together to prevent the capital flight,” he added.

Besides the finance minister, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, head of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) of BB Abu Hena Md Razee Hassan and other government high ups attended the seminar.

Speakers at the seminar termed the money laundering problem as a major concern for all countries across the globe, saying that Bangladesh government cannot resolve this problem in isolation but needs coordinated efforts.

They said all stakeholders and authorities concerned relating to financial dealings of the country will have to be trained so that they would be able to identify and prevent any sorts of money laundering.

Besides, the experts said, the authorities concerned will have to identify that which officials and employees of the financial sectors are engaged in such crime.

They strongly suggested punishing criminals engaged in such illegal financial dealing.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said, “Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism are global challenges. In today’s interconnected world every country is facing these complex and multi-faceted challenges.” 

“Advancement of technology is one of the factors that has contributed to the growth of money laundering and financing of terrorism activities,” he said adding that every country should identify, assess and understand the money laundering and terrorist financing risks for the country and take necessary action by designating appropriate mechanism to coordinate actions to mitigate the risks effectively. 

In this regard, international cooperation and coordination is strongly needed to strengthen the Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism mechanism, he mentioned.

He said Bangladesh has made significant development in strengthening its legal and regulatory regimes on anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism.

Shahriar said Bangladesh has been working in close cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia or Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) for effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.  

In order to give specialized support to the National Coordination Committee’s work, a National Committee on UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) Implementation, has been formed under the leadership of foreign ministry, he said. 

He said this committee issued two SROs with detailed implementation mechanisms focusing on ensuring compliance with the two seminal UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 regarding Terrorist Designations and Asset Freezing Regimes. 

The committee developed a set of user-friendly guidelines with clearly spelt-out responsibilities for different actors to fulfill their obligations under the concerned terrorist financial sanctions, he added.

“It needs real time response from other countries to penetrate the complex network of money laundering and terrorist financing,” he said adding that, “We are fully committed to rendering our all-out support to other countries in addressing money laundering and terrorist financing as well as in recovery of assets.” 

At the same time, we request other countries to reciprocate the same in the spirit of international and regional cooperation, he said.

National Revenue Board (NBR) Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that money is mainly smuggled through over-invoicing and under-invoicing. 

He said sometimes concerned authority have involved such crimes. So it becomes very difficult to identify the culprits. 

Therefore, some steps must be taken to prevent such crimes before happening, he said.

Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir said, “Money laundering is the oxygen of institutional crime. In order to protect a country's economy, it is very important to prevent it.”