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Wednesday, November 22, 2017 07:05:36 PM
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Laws not enough; govt. resolve important to stop capital flight

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14th-Nov-2017       
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NEWS reports said the government is going to revamp the taskforces for strengthening activities against money laundering and terror financing in the backdrop of growing capital flights from the country and Hundi business drying remittance inflow badly. The Finance Ministry has already drafted the new structure of reconstituted taskforces - one at the central level and others at divisional levels. The new bodies would have power to adopt strategies with the changing character of money laundering or illicit fund transfers from the country. We welcome the move but given the prevailing situation, doubt remains whether or not such agency will be able to stop it.

Former Chairman of BASIC Bank is still at large, even the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is unable to touch him due to protection he is enjoying from the high places of the government. It adds to the doubt whether the new move would bring any positive change in the ever-growing capital flight scenario.

Experts said reconstituting the taskforces in the name of checking money laundering would be a mere eye-wash unless the government agencies including Anti-Corruption Commission and Bangladesh Bank take effective steps to stop growing capital flights from the country. A former central bank governor noted that there was no effective measure by the ACC and BB to hunt down the persons responsible for sending money abroad illegally. Illicit fund outflows cost the country US$ 8.97 billion in 2014.

The country also lost $75 billion between 2005 and 2014 due to illegal outflow of fund through Hundi and trade mis-invoicing.

The local money laundering prevention agencies also failed to nab any persons who sent money illegally to Malaysia for availing the 'second home facility'. A total of 3,546 Bangladeshis invested money to get approval of the facility in July since 2002 to hold third position after Chinese and Japanese. Money held by Bangladeshis in Swiss Banks increased to $694.15 million at the end of 2016, marking 19 percent increase from the previous year. Revamping the taskforces became imperative after changes made to the Money Laundering Prevention Act in May that allowed police and taxmen to investigate into money laundering cases, which was previously done by the ACC alone.

Representatives from different state-agencies, banks, financial institutions and non-government organizations have been included in the central taskforce to be led by  Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit Chief for coordinating activities among different investigation agencies, law enforcement agencies and divisional taskforces. Expert said the countrymen want better performance from the state agencies to check money laundering as the growing Hundi operations had already made the growth of the inflow of remittances negative and put pressure on the current account balance.

We reiterate that if ruler is honest laws are unnecessary and if ruler is dishonest laws are ineffective. So it needs serious government resolve and foolproof laws to achieve the goal. Powerful people are doing it so use of more power is important to quell with them.

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