How gaps in probes stall Dhaka's fight against black money
Bangladesh's National Board of Revenue (NBR) seems to have all the elements in place, except the investigation.
In five years since 2015, when the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) was asked to operate the Money Laundering Prevention Act, it has filed as many as 82 such cases but is yet to make any concrete breakthrough in them.
CIID's failure to link the cases against anyone successfully in a court has been attributed to setbacks at the investigation stage itself "due to discrepancy in accounting processes" by none other than NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem.
The NBR boss flagged the issue at a recent meeting on 'Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention' , sources in the bureau told UNB. "For this, he had emphasised on collecting actual facts, figures and sheets before filing of a case and a chargesheet in the same."
The sources in the NBR said that of the 80 cases, probes into 50 of them are on. "But the revenue collection authority has managed to submit chargesheets in three cases only. CIID has sought permission from NBR to file charges in seven more cases."
Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and CIID are jointly investigating one case. Besides, CID is investigating 21 cases, which have been lodged for frauds, according to the sources.
After completing investigation, the CIID, the sources said, has already filed reports in 10 cases to NBR for getting an approval for further action. Currently, there are some 15 cases of money laundering at the investigation level.
The CIID is scrutinising two new money laundering allegations. A senior CIID official said that there should be some structural reforms in money laundering cases for "flawless probes".
He has recommended the formation of a new unit to NBR to deal with the money laundering cases. "Some special facilities, including prosecution, need to be included in that unit."
The government through the Money Laundering Prevention Act gave some organisations like the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate such issues. The Act was approved by the Cabinet on August 17, 2015, through an ordinance.
In its report in March, the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) claimed that Bangladesh lost Tk 63,924 crore (USD 7.53 billion) a year between 2008 and 2017 to trade misinvoicing.
As per the Swiss National Bank's annual report for 2019, deposit of money by Bangladeshi individuals and enterprises went down by 2.38% to 603 million Swiss Franc (CHF) in 2019, which was 617 million in 2018.