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Finance Minister: No list of money launderers

  • Published at 05:27 pm June 7th, 2021
WEB_Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in parliament FY2021-22
FILE PHOTO: Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presents the proposed national budget for 2021-22 fiscal year in parliament, June 3, 2021 Focus Bangla

Kamal calls on the opposition to provide the government with any information it may have

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Monday said he did not have any new information about those involved in siphoning money abroad from Bangladesh.

"I don't have a list of those who took the money," Mustafa Kamal told parliament after members of the opposition raised the issue of money laundering while he was placing the supplementary budget.

The finance minister's statement came in response to questions regarding money laundering raised by other lawmakers at parliament.

According to the 2019 report by Washington-based research and advisory firm Global Financial Integrity (GFI), some $5.9 billion was siphoned out of Bangladesh in 2015 through trade misinvoicing. It termed Bangladesh as one of the top 30 countries in terms of illicit financial flows.

In 2014, $9.11 billion was siphoned out of Bangladesh, according to GFI.

At parliament on Monday, the finance minister also asked the leaders of opposition parties to share any information on money laundering that they may have.

Also Read - ACC seeks details of Bangladesh public servants’ houses in Toronto’s Begum Para

“Give us the names. It will be easier for us [to catch money launderers] if you do that,” the minister said, adding that the government is active in preventing money laundering.

“Many money launderers are now in jail and facing trial. The situation is not like it used to be,” he further said.

Earlier, BNP reserved seat lawmaker Barrister Rumeen Farhana had said crores were being laundered through over- and under-invoicing, and the amount is even higher if the hundi market was counted. 

Jatiya Party lawmaker Kazi Firoz Rashid referred to the incident of a private bank’s director borrowing money from another bank and sending it abroad illegally.

He urged to open Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Canada, Malaysia, Australia to investigate money launders.

In reply, the finance minister said: "I feel the same as you about the hard-earned money of the people of the country are being laundered abroad. We all want this to stop.”

He told parliament money laundering through invoicing irregularities had decreased. 

Also Read - High Court: Money launderers are enemies of the state

“I will not say that it has been stopped completely, but there aren’t as many reports in the media now-a-days,” the minister added.

In November last year, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen admitted that the government had evidence of money laundering in Canada by Bangladeshis.

“I thought there would be more politicians, but most of them are government officials. There are some businessmen, especially apparel exporters, as well,” said the minister.

In an interview with a national daily, Momen said unofficial and unverified information showed that most houses in Toronto’s “Begum Para” were bought by government officials, as opposed to the popular belief that it was mainly politicians.

“This is interesting. Normally, we think government officials are not so financially solvent. So, how could they buy houses in Canada? We don't know how it is possible,” he told the newspaper.

Later the High Court sought information on money launderers. The court also described money launderers as “enemies of the state” and asked whether appropriate measures were taken against them.