Bringing back money laundered from Bangladesh is not difficult, but is time-consuming since it requires many legal processes to go through, said Khurshid Alam Khan, a panel lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The counsel made the remark while participating in a discussion on "TBS Current Affairs," recently organised by The Business Standard.
A broad discussion started in the media after the talk show raised the issue that a Bangladeshi has a billion-dollar deposit in a Singapore bank.
The media crew began to try every means to get the information about the owner of the sum.
As per the investigation, around $1 billion belonging to a former minister, who was earlier sentenced to death for war crimes, is in a bank in Singapore.
Although the ACC and other agencies confirmed this matter, no one has officially acknowledged it.
Khurshid Alam Khan told The Business Standard on Friday that the stated figure in the Singapore bank might be more or less than $1 billion.
However, there are several legal procedures to follow for the recovery of the amount, plus there are also some difficulties associated with it.
Asked what kind of difficulties lie in the recovery of the laundered money, he said, "Usually, we see there are nominees for most bank accounts, but this account does not have one."
"And his heirs did not make any claim on the funds. So, we cannot make a move to retrieve the funds," he added.
Sources said the agencies concerned are slowly moving ahead in accordance with the legal process.
The ACC counsel said they actually have nothing to do with the black money in Singapore. Unless its owner looks for the funds, it is unlikely that the funds can be brought back.
"But we are looking into the law and have already informed the Singaporean government that it is black money. They asked us for the necessary documents," they added.
According to the agencies working on illegally-sent money, in recent years, more capital from Bangladesh has ended up in: Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.
Among the launderers, civil servants top the list when it comes to transferring funds to Canada illegally. Business people from Bangladesh usually launder their money in Malaysia, politicians in Singapore and people of all other walks of life in Australia.
Sources said once the United States (US) used to be the prime destination for laundered money but that trend has subsided.
Khurshid Alam said the process is underway to retrieve, from a Hong Kong bank, a large sum belonging to former foreign minister Morshed Khan.
He hopes the money will be returned after a long legal process.
Citing the example of swindlers – PK Halder, Bismillah Group and Giasuddin Al Mamun, he added that the money smuggled out of this country could be brought back.
However, the legal process will take time, he said, adding, "We have to be patient till then."
The ACC lawyer further said under the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, Bangladesh can seek information from any country about the recovery of smuggled capital.
The ACC has already sent letters to Singapore, the US and Canada in this regard.
Khurshid Alam Khan said there are other countries in the world that look into laundering issues like the central authorities in Bangladesh.
The data on the issue is sent to other countries via a system called MLAAR and later, information is obtained through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That information is shown in the court, and after maintaining required formalities, the process to bring back money gets underway.
The lawyer said the laundered capital is recovered through due legal process and mutual cooperation between the countries.
A report released by the Washington-based think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) last March said $52.74 billion has been laundered from Bangladesh in the past seven years and a large amount has been smuggled out through import-export fraud.
According to the report, on average, $7.53 billion has been siphoned off from Bangladesh every year.
Addressing "Meet the Press" at the Dhaka Reporters Unity on 18 November, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said, "It is not politicians, it is government employees who are laundering more money."
"I thought the number of politicians in this case would be higher, but I am surprised to find that their number is lower than the number of our government employees," he added.
"I have received 28 cases. Of them, only four are politicians. There are also some ready-made garment exporters. The rest are public officials and employees," added the minister.
Considering the recent media reports that referred to comments of the foreign minister on money laundering, a High Court bench in a suo motu order sought detailed information including the names and identities of money launderers.
The Anti-Corruption Commission, the Bangladesh Bank governor, the National Board of Revenue chairman, and the Dhaka deputy commissioner have been asked to submit the information by 17 December.