While the finance minister is seeking names and addresses of the money launderers, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) has found evidence of 1,024 cases of money laundering in five years. According to the BFIU report, there were 58 cases of money laundering in FY 2015-16, 121 in FY 2016-17, 677 in FY 2017-18, 52 in FY 2018-19 and 116 in FY 2019-20. The agency’s report also details where the launderers bought or invested in flats and houses outside the country.

Unfortunately, although this information was sent to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Bangladesh Police, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Central Bank, hardly any investigation was done and action taken. This is how the launderers are encouraged. The two prominent money launderers who have caused a stir recently are Shahid Islam, a former MP from Lakshmipur-2 constituency and PK Haldar, former managing director of People’s Leasing. A Kuwaiti court has sentenced Shahid Islam to four years in prison for human trafficking and money laundering. He is now in the Kuwait prisons. PK Haldar seized various financial institutions and laundered Tk 35 billion abroad. But the government could not even touch him.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said in November last year that most of those who laundered money from Bangladesh to Canada were government officials. Out of 28 people, only four are politicians. The High Court then asked the ACC for updated information on the money launderers but they could not provide it.

The Awami League government brought some money laundered during the BNP rule and highlighted that over-enthusiastically. The countrymen also applauded their initiative. They hoped the government would close the money laundering loopholes and crack down on launderers. But in reality none of this happened. As a result, millions have been siphoned off the country and it is still continuing.

If someone wants to look for something with his eyes and ears closed, he will never find it. All you have to do is open your eyes and ears to get the names of those the finance minister is looking for, and it will take goodwill from his government to take action against the money launderers. The question is does the government really want to prevent money laundering? Unfortunately, we do not see any such step on the part of the government as yet.

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