The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) has appealed to the Swiss authorities for information on money syphoned off to the country by individuals and organisations from Bangladesh, BFIU's Additional Director Kamal Hossain said on Saturday.
"Recovering laundered money is a complex task. BFIU has received information about the finances of 67 individuals and organisations in Bangladesh from Swiss National Bank at different times," he said at a seminar on "20 Years of Prevention of Money Laundering and Terror Financing".
"The bank has been publishing information about the finances of individuals and organisations in the Swiss National Bank since 2014," Kamal Hossain added.
He said that information has been passed on to various law enforcement agencies, the Anti-corruption Corruption Commission (ACC) and the investigating agencies in Bangladesh.
Earlier on Thursday, the Swiss National Bank in its annual banking statistics for 2021 revealed that money parked by Bangladeshi individuals and enterprises in Swiss banks hit a record high of 871.1 million Swiss francs (CHF) or about Tk8,265 crore in 2021 – a 55% rise from 562.9 million CHF a year ago.
At Saturday's seminar, it was informed that so far BFIU has collected financial information about 800 individuals and organisations from different countries.
To curb money laundering and terrorist financing, the BFIU has seized Tk866 crore against nine cases under investigation till April in the current fiscal year.
However, in fiscal 2020-21, the amount of money seized against seven cases was Tk38.38 crore. At the same time, Tk1,333 crore has been seized against 63 cases under investigation in the last five years.
Besides, BFIU has confiscated Tk27 crore in the first ten months of the current financial year. At the same time, Tk1,273 crore has been deposited in the treasury of the government in the last five financial years.
Presided over by Head of BFIU Masud Biswas, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir was present as the chief guest at the function.
Selim RF Hussain, chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB), and Sheikh Mohammad Salim Ullah, secretary to the Financial Institutions Division, were present at the event as special guests.
It was informed at the seminar that money is laundered from Bangladesh mainly to the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and European countries.
Sheikh Mohammad Salim Ullah, secretary to the Financial Institutions Division, said money laundering is not just about syphoning off money abroad, but also about attempts to whiten funds accumulated through illegal means.
"We don't have a scope to remain in complacency. We must think that whether people are satisfied with our work or not. We have to achieve that through work," he added.
Inflation, high dollar rate new challenges: BB governor
Rising inflation and high dollar exchange rate have become new challenges to the country's economic recovery after the Covid-19, said Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir.
"We all need to work together to overcome these issues," he said at the BFIU programme.
He noted that there is no need to panic as Bangladesh has ample foreign reserves.
"We currently have $41.5 billion in reserve which is enough to meet three months' import bill," he assured.
The central bank bought $7.9 billion from other banks in the last fiscal year because of the need to reduce import costs due to Covid at that time. It has been selling dollars to banks in line with demand as import spending has risen since the beginning of the current financial year.
"If we have to meet the import cost of $7 billion per month, we will need $22.5 billion in three months," he added.
In addition, the government will spend $3 billion on emergency food, fuel oil and electricity and the total government cost in three months will be about 26 billion dollars, said the BB governor.
Speaking on the BFIU, the governor said that the anti-money laundering agency was playing an important role.
"We have to be careful so that terrorism takes place through money laundering. After a major accident in 2016, the government has played a huge role in preventing terrorism," he added.
"Criminals become active in any moment of crisis so you have to be vigilant in the overall situation," the government said.
Regarding the loans to the farmers of Sylhet, he said that whether the farmers of Sylhet repay the loans or not, banks have to increase the distribution of loans among them.
He also suggested spending from the corporate social responsibility (CSR) sector in those flood-hit areas.