Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday sought lawmakers' help in identifying money-launderers so that action can be taken against them.
Discussing the supplementary budget for the fiscal 2020-21 in parliament on Sunday, he also said 15 laws will be enacted within the next one year as the government is pursuing a zero-tolerance policy against irregularities in the financial sector.
Responding to remarks by Jatiya Party lawmaker Kazi Firoz Rashid and BNP's Rumin Farhana that huge sums of money are being laundered, the finance minister said, "I do not have a list of money launderers. If you know their names, give it to us."
During the discussion, Kazi Firoz Rashid said the director of a bank is taking money from another bank. Thousands of crores of taka are being laundered. They are also sending money abroad through hundi. The court wanted a list of those who have built homes abroad. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has not been able to give it yet, he alleged.
Demanding that the ACC opens offices in Canada, Malaysia and Australia, Kazi Firoz said, "Then it will be seen who took away how much money. PK Halder took so much money! You could not arrest PK Halder for nine minutes. Why didn't you arrest him nine hours ago?"
BNP lawmaker Rumin Farhana said the public deposit money in banks. A class of people take money from these banks and while taking the money, they already know they would not have to return it.
She said more than Tk1 lakh crore is laundered abroad every year. The money is laundered through over-invoicing and under-invoicing. Outside this amount, a huge amount is also laundered through hundi business.
In reply, the finance minister said, "The hard-earned money of the people of the country is being laundered abroad, it hurts me also as it hurts you. I am against irregularity and indiscipline. These need to be stopped, and it is being stopped in many cases. Many are in jail, being tried. Money is not being laundered as much as it used to be."
Citing an example, Minister Kamal said, "Sand used to be imported in the name of cement. One product was imported in the name of another. Under-invoicing and over-invoicing is not the same as before. It cannot be said it has stopped completely. However, it is not found in newspapers as before."
In reply to the finance minister's statement, BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid said, "I have received information that low quality bitumen is being imported forging documents. Coffee seeds are being imported in the name of mustard seeds. Besides, stone loaded containers came from China. There are more such incidents."