Swiss bank deposits by Bangladeshis slump by 94pc in one year

Swiss National BankFile photo

The amount of deposit by Bangladeshis at Swiss banks has decreased significantly. The amount has decreased nearly 820 million Swiss francs, a slump by 94 per cent from the previous amount in a year, says an annual report of Swiss National Bank (SNB) on Thursday.

This was revealed at a time when the issue of money laundering is being discussed in Bangladesh anew.

As per the central bank of Switzerland, the amount of money Bangladeshis had deposited at different banks of the country was 871.1 million Swiss francs at the end of 2021. The amount has come down to 55.3 million Swiss francs in 2022, the report added.

The current amount of deposits is 55.3 million Swiss francs which is equal to Tk 6.69 billion at the exchange rate of Tk 121 per Swiss franc.

The money deposited in Swiss banks is deposited in individual and company accounts. The central bank of Switzerland, Swiss National Bank, publishes the data as a liability in its financial statement.

The dollar crunch could be a reason of this sudden significant slump of deposits by Bangladeshis at Swiss banks, said economists. They also said many companies may have lost the capacity to deposit money or invest due to this ongoing dollar shortage. At the same time, many companies have withdrawn the money from there.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Policy Research Institute (PRI) executive director Ahsan H Mansur said a number of Bangladeshi institutions including the Bangladesh Bank and some other commercial banks deposit money in their Swiss bank accounts. Maybe these institutions withdrew their money from there due to the ongoing dollar crunch or they could not deposit money anew. Besides this, maybe some people have shifted their laundered money to other countries, he added.

Ahsan H Mansur further said many Bangladeshis now live in Switzerland. They also deposit their legally earned money in the banks there. Since a global economic pressure has appeared, maybe the capacity of depositing money has decreased of the people who used to deposit their legally earned money there. Overall, maybe that is why the amount of deposit of Bangladeshis has decreased there.

Meanwhile, as per the SNB report, it is not that the deposit of only Bangladeshis has decreased there; rather the money deposited by the people and companies from India, Pakistan, Singapore, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US also has decreased.

In 2021, the amount of deposit by Indians in Swiss banks was 3.83 billion Swiss francs which came down to 3.4 billion in 2022. In the same way, the deposit of Pakistanis was 710 million Swiss francs in 2021 which came down to 390 million in 2022. The amount of Saudi deposit has reduced to half, from 10.45 billion in 2021 to 5.21 billion in 2022.

Besides, the deposit by Russian people and establishments also has decreased by 28 per cent in that period, from 21.37 billion Swiss francs in 2021 to 15.26 billion in 2022.

As per the SNB report, between 2000 and 2022, Bangladeshis had lowest amount of deposit in Swiss banks in 2003, only 25 million Swiss francs. The highest amount of deposit was 870 million Swiss francs in 2021.

People involved with the banking sector in Bangladesh said we cannot say that all the money Bangladeshis has in Swiss banks are laundered money. Bangladeshis living in Switzerland and other European countries also deposit their money legally in the banks there. Many establishments do the same.

Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is in charge of collecting information on money laundered from Bangladesh. Md Masud Biswas is the chief of BFIU. He did not pick up the phone when Prothom Alo contacted him for his remarks on the matter.