Money laundering: Nab the culprits no matter who they are

Money is quite overtly being siphoned off abroad, but no official source has been saying anything specifically. Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) chief officer Masud Biswas revealed shocking information.

In the meeting organised following the publishing of the annual report of BFIU last Monday, he said that some products have been imported by over-invoicing by 20 to 200 per cent. This means if a product is imported with a price of $100, it is shown as $200 in the receipt. It is not hard to assume how much money has been laundered.

The BFIU official, however, claimed, "It has stopped after strengthening vigilance. It has been prevented. Now we have to work to prevent under-invoicing of imports to evade taxes. Such products include cars. Meanwhile, monitoring is being strengthened.”

Apart from this, a lot of money is being smuggled by means of 'hundi'. According to the report of Washington based Global Financial Integrity (GFI), USD 49.65 billion were smuggled from Bangladesh under the guise of foreign trade. Its amount in Bangladeshi currency is 4 trillion taka. It should be noted that BFIU or Bangladesh Bank monitored this only when the dollar crisis appeared in the country. These institutions were sitting idly until now. Therefore, these institutions cannot avoid the responsibility of failure to prevent money laundering.

According to the BFIU official, recovering the money laundered is a difficult task. But why did they not take any effective action to stop the trafficking? Some of the policy makers of the government bragged about the dollars flow in Bangladesh. In countries where money is laundered from Bangladesh, the source of the money is not asked. As a result, there is no possibility of bringing the money back.

However, if the government can prove that the money that has been smuggled out of Bangladesh is in fact made by evading tax, there is a possibility of bringing it back. India has brought back much of the money laundered in the process. The restriction on disclosure of information regarding money deposited in Swiss banks has been lifted. Therefore If Bangladesh makes a sincere effort it is possible to track the money launderers.

The role of Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue is very important in preventing money laundering. Money laundering may be reduced if these two institutions increase surveillance on import and export.

Also, according to the BFIU chief officer's comment, legal action should be taken against those who have shown inflated prices of products by 20 to 200 per cent. Money laundering will decrease or increase depending on whether the government can sternly follow that.

Most of the money exchange agencies have the blessing of the ruling party. Many of them are accused of money laundering through hundi. Sometimes it is caught. So, to stop money laundering, the culprits must be tried no matter who they are.