The National Board of Revenue has empowered its field-level offices to investigate money laundering cases having relation with tax matters.
All the wings — customs, value-added tax and income tax — along with the central intelligence cell of the revenue board will now be able to conduct inquiry and investigation into the money laundering cases and take legal steps, said an NBR letter issued on Monday.
The particular office which will detect a money laundering incidence will act as the investigating agency for that case, the letter said.
The tax authority also cancelled its previous order issued on October 2, 2016 authorising the CIC as the sole probe agency. Before October 2, 2016, mainly the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate of the NBR had been conducting investigations into trade-based money laundering cases.
In June 2017, the revenue board also asked its field-level offices of customs, VAT and income tax to transfer the money laundering cases to the CIC.
The CIID had been opposing the NBR decision of withdrawing the power from it and seeking its cancellation arguing that the decision was not consistent with the provisions of the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2012.
Anti-money laundering activities including investigation lost pace amid the difference between the NBR and the CIID while the NBR was also in dilemma over determining the investigating agency.
Officials of the CIC also couldn’t develop their capacity to deal with the matter as it has no presence across the country. It has so far carried out investigation into only one money laundering case.
The CIID, however, has continued with its investigation activities despite scrapping its power by the NBR taking advantage of inconsistency between the NBR order and the law.
Till now, the CIID conducted inquiry and investigation into more than 15 cases while there are many other cases in the pipeline.
It has filed several cases with different police stations against business houses and traders including Apan Jewellers and its owner Dildar Ahmed Selim, and business tycoon Moosa Bin Shamsher on charge of money laundering.
The revenue board in the latest letter signed by NBR member SM Ashfaque Hussain admitted that the previous decision was not aligned with the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2012.
According to the latest decision, the revenue board will authorise one of its offices from customs, VAT, income tax and CIC to investigate a case detected by any other agency if that agency requests the NBR to probe the matter.
According to the different global agencies including Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based research organisation, more than 80 per cent incidences of money laundering occur in disguise of international trade or export and import.
The NBR also agreed on the estimation and said that traders laundered money from the country through misdeclaration like under-invoicing and over-invoicing in import and export.
GFI in its latest report on illegal financial flows said that some $55.87 billion was laundered from the country from 2004 to 2013 period.
Of which, $49.13 billion or 88 per cent was siphoned off by traders through under-invoicing and over-invoicing in imports and exports, it said.
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