The government is planning to appoint international legal consulting firms to identify money launderers and recover laundered money, according to sources within the task force formed to bring back laundered money.
At the same time, Bangladeshi missions abroad will collect information on money launderers and their assets.
The task force is working on this initiative and is expected to set further action plans at its next meeting.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) told The Business Standard that the government had offered an opportunity for Bangladeshi nationals to repatriate undisclosed money or assets held abroad, subject to paying a 7% tax. However, as of the expiration date on 30 June this year, no Bangladeshi nationals have availed themselves of this advantage.
Now the government is thinking of appointing international legal consulting firms to bring back the laundered money, said the official.
Previously, in 2009, the government hired a consulting firm "Octokhan" to bring back the laundered money by BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko.
At that time, the Anti-Corruption Council (ACC) gave the firm a commission equal to 10% of the recovered amount. Subsequently, the contract was renewed twice, but it was not extended with the company after 2015.
The NBR official also said that a task force comprised of members from various agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation (CIID), Central Intelligence Cell (CIC) of the NBR, and the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), is actively engaged in examining the legal aspects related to the appointment of such firms.
He also mentioned that on 29 November last, the 7th meeting of the task force meeting gave an opinion to appoint international legal consulting firms.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin presided over that meeting while representatives of the finance ministry, foreign ministry, law ministry, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, NBR, CIID, CIC, CID, ACC, and BSEC were present.
According to the meeting minutes, the attorney general said, "Different countries have appointed such private legal firms to recover laundered money and paid them a part of the recovered amount as honorarium."
In response, a representative from the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) informed the meeting that Bangladesh had successfully repatriated laundered money using this approach before.
Attorney General Abu Mohammad Amin Uddin then emphasised the significance of compiling a list of money launderers as a crucial step in recovering their illicitly acquired assets. He suggested that Bangladeshi embassies located in various countries could gather pertinent information on these individuals, enabling law enforcement agencies to take appropriate actions thereafter.
During the meeting, it was also mentioned that note verbales have been issued to representatives of various Bangladesh missions to obtain information regarding the sources of income, professions, and addresses of Bangladeshi politicians who have been residing abroad for extended periods.
Simultaneously, Mutual Legal Assistance Requests will be dispatched. Additionally, the list can be compiled by gathering information through covert means or intelligence channels, the meeting further discussed.
Referring to BIFU's report, the meeting also conveyed that Bangladesh needs to establish mutual legal assistance agreements with several countries, including Canada, the USA, the UK, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, the UAE, Switzerland, Thailand, and Hong Kong, China.
The ACC has sent 34 MLARs to different countries to investigate money laundering, while only two of these requests have been responded to.