The High Court (HC) has sought a complete list of Bangladeshi individuals and organisations who have syphoned off money abroad through various foreign banks, including Swiss banks.
At the same time, the court issued a ruling asking for steps taken to bring back the laundered money and asked the authorities concerned why their inaction regarding the issue should not be declared illegal.
Fifteen people – including the secretaries of finance, commerce, foreign, home and law ministries, prime minister's office, the attorney general, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Bangladesh Bank Governor, and Inspector General of Police (IGP) – were asked to respond to the ruling within the next four weeks.
The bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim, on Sunday, passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by two Supreme Court lawyers, Abdul Qayyum Khan and Subir Nandi Das.
Further, the court also asked the government why it should not be instructed to investigate those whose names appear in the Panama and Paradise papers.
In the ruling, the court also wants to know why it should not be instructed to form a separate probe team to investigate money laundering incidents and to take necessary steps to recover the laundered money or to enact any new law if necessary.
The court has fixed 30 March for the next hearing and to deliver its order.
Abdul Qayyum Khan moved for the writ petition while Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan for the ACC and Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik represented the state.
During the hearing, the ACC said an investigation into the names of those appearing in the Panama and Paradise papers is underway. Abdul Awal Mintu and Musa bin Shamser are among them so far.
Additionally, all concerned, including the foreign and home ministries, immigration police and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) were informed regarding bringing back the laundered money from Swiss banks. The BFIU has also been asked to prepare an action plan and is doing so, it added.
During the hearing, the state counsels said there are some legal restrictions on the release of information about the money launderers as the BFIU can only use the list for investigation according to the law.
The state counsels further said work is underway to prepare a complete list of dual citizens which earlier this court sought. However, according to the home ministry, the number is around 14,000.
But, they need more time to make a complete list.