The Bangladesh Bank has drafted a specific law to control and prevent production, circulation and transaction of counterfeit currencies in the country, rearranging punishment provisions specified for the offences in other laws.
Officials said that the central bank took the move to draft a separate law — Counterfeit Currency Control and Prevention Act-2017 — to rationalise existing measures taken to prevent currency counterfeiting and punish people involved in the offences under various laws as there were loopholes and ambiguity in definitions and other issues related to the offences.
The BB draft has a provision of life-term imprisonment and fine up to Tk 1 crore for repeated violations of the law.
The offenders now can easily get bail due to ambiguity in definitions.
The new law will prevent weakness and ensure bringing the criminals under the book, BB officials said, adding that the offences under the draft law would be cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.
The BB finalised the draft taking opinions from various ministries, divisions and other government agencies on the draft and forwarded to the finance ministry.
Finance ministry has sent the draft to the law ministry for legal vetting, they said, adding that the central bank had been trying to enact such law over the last few years.
Currently, the offences related to currency counterfeiting are dealt under the sections 489A to 489D of the Penal Code 1860 and section 25A of Special Powers Act-1974, officials of the Department of Currency Management of the central bank said.
They said that definitions of the offences and other related issues were not clear in the sections of the two laws, which also did not cover all the offences related to counterfeiting currency-notes and bank-notes.
Criminals also manage to escape from legal punishment taking the advantage of legal loopholes, they said.
According to the Penal Code, the highest punishment is imprisonment for life.
According to the Special Power Act, the offences are punishable with death penalty or with imprisonment for life or for a term up to 15 years.
Officials said that the terms of punishment had been rearranged in the draft law to make it more efficient and implementable.
According to the draft law, the offences related to production and transaction of counterfeit currency, possessing such notes, transportation of fake currencies to and from the country and manufacturing, supply, maintenance and transaction of instruments used for counterfeiting currencies will come under the purview of the law.
The draft law, however, said that no legal steps, including filling a case, would be taken against a person who possessed or bore fake currency for legal transactions without knowing the status of the currency.
The bearer, however, will have to prove that he or she bore the fake currency in good faith.
The offences where the number of fake currency will be below 10 pieces will be settled in alternative method involving local representatives, class one government officials or local branch manager of state-owned banks.
The minimum punishment will be two-year in jail and Tk 1 lakh fine for committing the offence for the first time involving the number of fake currency below 100 pieces.
The guilty will face seven years imprisonment and Tk 10 lakh penalty for committing the crime for the first time having involvement of currency above 500 pieces.
The terms of imprisonment and amounts of penalty will gradually increase for repeated offences.
A person involved with an offence for the third or more time will face life-term imprisonment and Tk 1 crore in penalty, according to the draft law.
The offences under the draft law will be tried at special sessions judge court or metropolitan magistrate or at first class judicial magistrate court.
The offences will also come under the purview of mobile courts run by the executive magistrates.
Under the act, the Department of Currency Management will establish a database of bearer, supplier, producer and instruments used in producing and processing counterfeit currencies.
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