Bank accounts info sought to intimidate journos

19 September 2021

Staff Reporter :
The journalist community has strongly condemned the move of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) to probe into the bank accounts of 11 journalist body leaders.
Terming the move as 'unprecedented' and 'ill motivated,' they said BFIU sought bank details of 11 journalist leaders to intimidate the community as well as to create confrontation between mass media and the government.
The community came up with the observation at a press conference held at the Jatiya Press Club under a joint banner of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, the Dhaka Union of Journalists, the Jatiya Press Club and the Dhaka Reporters' Unity in the capital on Saturday.
 "Investigating the bank accounts of journalist leaders is an unprecedented incident in the history of Bangladesh. The move is a threat to the media freedom in the country," said Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU) General Secretary Mosiur Rahman Khan.
Reading out a written statement from all 11 journalist body leaders, Mosiur said at the press conference that while a person or institution can be investigated on valid grounds, the move to investigate the finances of all 11 journalists who are leaders of journalist organizations is "ill-motivated.""The investigation has made the profession of journalism questionable in the eyes of the people," he said, adding that it has also created fear among journalists.
Saying that the journalist community strongly condemns the move, the DRU general secretary demanded an explanation and solution from the authorities.
"It is nothing but a ploy to put the government and media against each other," he said.
Mosiur Rahman Khan pressed if any of the senior journalists under probe is found to be involved in money laundering or militant activities then that must be published in the media. "If not (involved) then that must be cleared too."
"There was no precise reason given for the probe into the bank accounts," said Farida Yasmin. "It is only once specific allegations regarding unusual transactions or financial support for militancy surface that an investigation into bank accounts should be launched. But there is no sign of any such allegations."
"I spoke to the information minister and other important members of the government and they say they do not know anything about this situation."
BFUJ President Molla Jalal said: "The letter was sent and then news of the bank account probe was reported in the media immediately afterward, before that information was sent back to them. That means that the letter aims to discredit the individuals and organisations it targeted. This scare tactic is being used to create fear among journalists."
"We believe this is clearly targeted. We believe it is a threat to freedom of expression and independent journalism."
National Press Club general secretary Ilias Khan, acting secretary general of BFUJ Abdul Majid, president of the another faction of BFUJ M Abdullah, and secretary general Nurul Amin Rokon. President of one faction of DUJ Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury and general secretary Md Shahidul Islam and DRU president Morsalin Nomani, among others, were present in the press briefing.
At the end of the briefing, the journalist leaders have called for a demonstration in front of the National Press Club on Sunday.
On September 13, BFIU, the central agency that investigates money laundering and suspicious transactions, ordered all banks to send in financial information of 11 senior journalists including the National Press Club President Farida Yasmin and General Secretary Ilyas Khan.
The nine other journalists, whose bank details have been sought, include Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) faction President Kader Gani Chowdhury and its General Secretary Md Shahidul Islam, and Sajjad Alam Khan Tapu, the general secretary of another DUJ faction.
Details of accounts held by presidents and general secretaries of two factions of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) M Abdullah, Nurul Amin Rokon, Mollah Jalal, and Abdul Majid were also sought.
Banks have also been told to provide all financial details of Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU) President Morsalin Nomani and General Secretary Mosiur Rahman Khan.
BFIU has sought all kinds of information on the bank accounts maintained by the senior journalists, including their bank statements, account opening forms with all documents, KYC, transaction profile and transaction details.

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