File report on money launderers by Feb 28: HC

The High Court on Thursday ordered the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the government to file a report by Feb 28 next year on money launderers and steps taken against them.

The virtual bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Ahmed Sohel issued the order after the ACC filed a report in this regard.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan tried to highlight the list of money laundering cases between 2016 and 2020 in which charges have been pressed.

The court told him: “We want to see what you’ve done after our order. We’d like to know about steps taken against money launderers who’ve bought properties abroad. Tell us what’s new.”

During the hearing, the court said it wants to assist the country and its people and noted media reports on money laundering was “an ominous sign”.

“We want to know the names of money launderers,” the court said.

Money laundering hit the headlines again after Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen spoke about the issue at a media conference on Nov 18.

“I thought that the number of the politicians (involved in money laundering) would be higher but [according to] the report I received … many government officials have houses in foreign countries and their children are studying there. I’ve received 28 cases and among them four are politicians while some are RMG businessmen. We’re trying to collect more information,” he said at a programme at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.

Based on the reports, the High Court on Nov 22 issued a suo-moto rule seeking information on money launderers. The concerned agencies met the attorney general twice to prepare a report for submitting before the court.

The latest meeting took place on Dec 14 in presence of representatives of ACC, home and foreign ministries, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit and the National Board of Revenue.

The ACC filed its report on Thursday but the court was not satisfied with it and gave the authorities concerned until Feb 28 to furnish a report.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the state.

The attorney general told the court the foreign ministry has sought time to file their report.

A report of the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in March said that Bangladesh lost Tk 63,924 crore ($7.53 billion) a year between 2008 and 2017 to trade misinvoicing.

According to Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) annual report for 2019, deposit of money by Bangladeshis and enterprises went down by 2.38 percent to 603 million Swiss Francs (CHF) in 2019 from 617 million CHF in the previous year.

Bangladesh is gearing up for a crackdown on black money. The government is reportedly planning to sign taxation agreements with as many as 12 countries for allowing exchange of information in order to bring back black money stashed abroad.

In the latest budget, the government introduced a scope to whiten black money.

Source: United News of Bangladesh