Reserve theft: Dhaka to persuade int’l bodies to blacklist Manila

Shakhawat Hossain | Published: 00:48, Dec 15,2016 | Updated: 11:56, Dec 15,2016

 
 

Dhaka would persuade multilateral organisations like Financial Action Task Force and Egmont Group to ‘blacklist’ Manila as the latter allowed laundering of the stolen reserve fund of the Bangladesh Bank in February.
Officials said that Dhaka had strong grounds for raising the demand before the multilateral bodies as Manila had made no steps to stop the transfer of $81 million despite appeals from the Bangladesh Bank.
Since 2000, the Paris-based task force has been blacklisting countries for not cooperating in the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
The blacklisted countries face problem in doing business with other countries.
Central bank deputy governor Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, also the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit chief, said that they were examining new steps to put additional pressure on Manila to recover the stolen reserve.
Persuading the multilateral organisations to ‘blacklist’ Manila is one of them, he told New Age on Monday.
He said that task force officials would visit Manila this month with recommendations for improving Philippines’ efforts to check money laundering.
He noted that money laundering record of the Philippines was very poor.
During the past nine months, the central back could recover $15 million of the $81 stolen from its account in the New York Fed through diplomatic efforts.
Law minister Anisul Haq led a delegation to Manila and apparently failed to make any breakthrough in the recovery of the remaining fund.
Manila has attached conditions including sharing the probe report on reserve theft with it for giving further cooperation to Dhaka while Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in Philippines, through which the fund was channelled to casinos, refused to pay back compensation demanded by the Bangladesh Bank.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Rizal Commercial Banking Corp held the central bank officials responsible for the theft, and so any liability should not be passed on it. Rizal was responding to comments by a Bangladeshi investigator that some central bank officials deliberately exposed its computer systems and enabled hackers to steal the money from its account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A government task force headed by bank and financial institutions division secretary Eunusur Rahman would review the overall recovery of the stolen reserve at a meeting to be held on December 18.
The review meeting would also discuss the outcome of the visit by the high-level delegation to Manila early December and next course of action, the officials said.
Eunusur said that they needed to strike new strategies to recover the remaining stolen reserve as it became a ‘serious prestige’ issue for the government.
The unprecedented reserve theft shook the central bank and grabbed the headlines in local and foreign media.
In March, a probe committee headed by former central bank governor Mohammad Farashuddin was formed.
The committee in its report recommended departmental and legal actions against the central bank officials suspected to be involved in the theft.
Its another recommendation to make the report public still remains unimplemented.

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