Banks and financial institutions sent a record 5,280 suspicious transaction and activity reports to the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) in the 2020-21 fiscal year, thanks to increasing Ponzi schemes that thrived in the guise of e-commerce platforms during the Covid-led lockdown.
The total number of reports in the last fiscal year is up by around 43% year-on-year, the anti-money laundering watchdog BFIU said in a report on Tuesday.
The unit also attributed the rise to the government's strong stance against corruption.
While releasing the report at a press briefing, BFIU Deputy General Manager Kamal Hossain said the rise is a positive sign as it indicates a firm commitment on the part of banks and other financial institutions against money laundering and terror financing.
"More reports on suspicious money flow do not necessarily mean that money laundering is on the rise. Instead, it is an indication of a stronger role of the BFIU," the unit's head Md Masud Biswas told journalists.
"During the pandemic, Bangladesh witnessed a significant expansion of digital platforms and the e-commerce industry. Numerous embezzlement and financial fraud allegations also surfaced at the same time. The unit successfully conducted several in-depth analyses on financial transactions by some companies to verify their involvement in money laundering," he added.
The unit last year provided different public agencies with financial information in 1,414 incidents – which is 80% year-on-year high.
Health sector scams among intel sharing
In the 2020-21FY, the unit disseminated a total of 73 reports on suspicious transactions and activities to different investigations and law enforcement agencies. This was in contrast to 116 the previous year. The unit said the number of report dissemination dropped last year due to slashed office hours.
Fraud and forgery topped the dissemination, while there were 21 reports the unit sent to law enforcers on scams and corruption in the health sector. Besides, 16 reports were disseminated on bribe transactions.
We've the list, but can't publish: Chief
When asked about the information on money launderers that came out in different international reports, BFIU chief Masud Biswas said that the data are incomplete.
"We have the complete information about the money launderers, but we are unable to publish it," he commented.
Top officials of the unit were present at the press briefing. Fazle Kabir, the central bank governor, in his written speech appreciated the report, and said the BFIU has been quite vigilant in handling e-commerce frauds.