Banks, financial institutions and other reporting organisations sent a significant number of suspicious transaction and activity reports to the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) in fiscal year 2018-19, though the number is lower than the previous year.
In 2018-19, the BFIU received a total of 3,573 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and suspicious activity reports (SARs) from reporting agencies, down by 7.86 percent year-on-year, according to the BFIU's annual report released on Sunday.
Bankers said it was a good sign that the banks and other reporting agencies concerned had paid more attention to the suspicious transactions and activities as part of their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The quality of STRs and SARs submitted by reporting agencies also improved, said Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, chief of the BFIU.
The BFIU is responsible for analysing STRs, SARs, cash transaction reports, plus information related to money laundering and terrorist financing received from reporting agencies and other sources.
In FY19, the BFIU disseminated only 52 STRs and SARs to different investigation and law enforcement agencies – in contrast to 677 the previous year, according to the report.
The BFIU initially analyses and investigates the complaints submitted by reporting agencies.
If any anomaly is found, it forwards the reports to the Anti-Corruption Commission, Bangladesh police and other government agencies for further investigation, Hassan said.
He said the BFIU in FY18 forwarded 609 digital hundi and informal remittances cases to government investigation agencies – the majority of STRs and SARs.
The reporting agencies – banks, non-bank financial institutions, money changers and capital market intermediaries – have lodged 5,036 suspicious transactions worth Tk1.021 crore in FY19.
The global community always accepts the rise in STRs and SARs positively as they think that this is an indication of the financial organisations' compliance with corporate governance, said Hassan, also a former deputy governor of the central bank.
For instance, American financial organisations make roughly 55,000 STRs and SARs per day, he said.
Banks face heavy penalties if they do not forward the STRs and SARs on time, said Syed Mahbubur Rahman, former chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, a platform of private banks' chief executives.
The high number of reports indicates that banks and other reporting agencies are now more concerned about money laundering and terrorist financing, said Rahman, also the chief executive of Mutual Trust Bank.
BFIU has disseminated 10 terrorism and terrorism financing cases in the year 2018-19. As part of the analysis, the BFIU scrutinised 42 accounts and 27 of those have been frozen for varying periods of time.