Money laundered through false export import declarations

Golam Mowla
Published : 07:30, Dec 14, 2019 | Updated : 07:30, Dec 14, 2019

Representational image FILE PHOTO/Mehedi HasanDetectives in the financial sector say that the banking sector is now the main medium through which money is laundered. In the name of import and export, money is being converted to dollars and sent abroad.Economists

say that using the banking sector, Tk 400 billion to Tk 600 billion are being siphoned off every year. Money is also being sent overseas through hundi. As a result, the banks are facing liquidity crisis.
Senior secretary of the government’s financial department, Asadul Islam has instructed the Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), to take preventive measures. Says BFIU head, Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hassan: “We have adopted a strict stance over money laundering and have made a policy. Every bank has been instructed to form a committee to monitor money laundering.”
BFIU head, Abu Hena says: “Assessing all information about imports, several banks with unusual import growth have been identified; also, suspicious transactions of all banks are being analysed.”
For this, a 9-member specialist committee has been formed.
Central bank says that in the last few months, loan growth has fallen steadily and in the current fiscal year, loan growth has been only 10.04 percent, lowest in the last decade.
Even during the anti government agitation period of 2013-14, the growth was better, at 10.80 percent.
One analysis of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit shows that most cases sent to BFIU are related to money laundering done through over and under invoicing. Money is being laundered by inflating the actual cost of items. On the other hand, cost of exported items are lessened to keep money overseas.
Such a possibility is reflected in a survey by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM). ACC chairman, Iqbal Hassan Mahmud also feels that most money is laundered in the name of import-export.
Washington based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) shows that 80 percent money is laundered through foreign trade.
GFI’s 2018 report says that in 2015, $5.9 billion or Tk 500 billion were laundered from Bangladesh.
Executive director of non government research body, Policy Research Institute (PRI) Ahsan H Mansur says: “The main reason why banks are cash strapped is that the money has been laundered; in the last ten years more than Tk 6,000 billion was possibly laundered.”
To prevent money being sent abroad illegally, illegal sources and unlawful income needed to be stopped, he added. Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Golam Moazzem said: “80 percent of the money laundered is through false declaration.”