In order to return the money laundered in different countries, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has sought a list of Bangladeshis who have obtained citizenship in investment quotas in those countries.
The money laundering unit of the ACC has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking assistance in compiling the list through diplomatic channels.
The Director-General of the ACC Money Laundering Unit, ANM Al Firoz, recently sent a letter in this regard to Masud Bin Momen, senior secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In the letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referring to the research conducted by various international organisations and media reports, it was said that a huge amount of money was being laundered from Bangladesh every year through mis-invoicing, hundi, bank cash transfers in import-export trade.
As a result, the development of the country is being curtailed.
The ACC said that some Bangladeshi nationals have acquired citizenship of different countries via investment of this laundered money. If this trend continues, economic progress is likely to slow down in future.
The letter also mentioned that it was important to recover the laundered money through legal measures to prevent individuals from acquiring citizenships abroad through money laundering.
Highlighting the critical role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in seeking international assistance in the fight against corruption, the ACC letter said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would initially collect information on these Bangladeshis through diplomatic channels.
Upon receiving the intelligence, the ACC will be in a position to take prompt legal actions.
ACC secretary, Dilwar Bakht, has admitted sending a letter to the Foreign Ministry. He said, "Official information is collected through the Mutual Legal Assistance Request (MLAR) through the Attorney General's Office."
"In this case, using our diplomatic missions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked to provide support in collecting information from the relevant countries. I hope they will take positive steps in this regard," he further said.
Attempts to reach the Foreign Secretary for comment were unsuccessful.
According to ACC sources, MLARs for information on money laundering have already been sent to 50 countries, including the United States, England, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia. 22 of those countries have responded.
Thus far, the Commission has responded to seven MLARs from the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and Saint Lucia.
According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a US-based think-tank, $5.9 billion was siphoned off from Bangladesh between 2006-2015.
Bangladesh lost a staggering $7.53 billion a year between 2008 and 2017 to trade misinvoicing, equivalent to nearly one-fifth of the country's tax collection target of the last fiscal year.
In recent years, there have been reports of money laundering in the name of second homes in Malaysia. The money-laundering scandal led by PK Haldar is currently being discussed in the country's financial sector.
The names of Bangladeshi money launderers have also appeared in various documents, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.