The government on Sunday outlined 11 strategies along with 137 action plans in the National Strategy for Prevention of Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism 2019-2022 to prevent illicit fund outflow as such outflow could be destructive for the economy of any country.
The national strategy was launched at a seminar held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dhaka where lawmakers and senior government officials stressed coordinated and prompt global actions in dealing with money laundering and terror financing issues.
The aims of the formulation of the national strategy are to stem illicit flow of funds and trade-based money laundering, develop an effective judicial system and maintain strict AML and CFT compliance by the reporting organisations, said Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit chief Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hasan in his presentation on the strategy.
Besides, modernising border control mechanisms, ensuring systematic freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime and managing them effectively, promoting transparency in ownership of legal persons and arrangements, ensuring corporate governance in the reporting agencies and other corporate vehicles for further strengthening of AML and CFT regime are the other objectives of the strategy formulation, Razi Hassan said.
He also mentioned that the National Strategy for Preventing Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism 2015-2017 was mostly successful as 71 action items were fully implemented, 36 action items were partially implemented and 31 action items were in implementation phase in 2017.
In 2018, some of the unfinished action items were fulfilled and the remaining action items have been included in the 2019-2022 strategy, Razi Hassan said.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said that the world should be united in solving the money laundering and terror financing issues as it would not be possible for a single country to get rid of the problem.
Mentioning the issues as threats to economy, he said that the government had undertaken plan to scan all the goods imported to and exported from the country to tackle money laundering by way of trade.
State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam stressed coordinated efforts in dealing with money laundering and terror financing.
He said, ‘It needs real time response from other countries to penetrate the complex network of money laundering and terrorist financing and we also commit all other countries to extend our all-out support in addressing the issue.’
The state minister also alleged that a western country was not supporting Bangladesh with adequate information in dealing with a terror financing incident in which religious sentiment was used in collecting money and funding terrorism in Bangladesh.
He thanked the authorities in Singapore for helping Bangladesh in supporting to resolve a similar kind of incident.
Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Iqbal Mahmood suggested the BFIU’s better coordination among the government agencies in dealing with money laundering-related issues and suggested recruiting manpower from other government agencies instead of relying only on the banking professionals.
Eighty per cent of the money laundering incidents was occurred through trade, said National Board of Revenue chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, adding that e-transaction and fintech that allowed transfer of funds without leaving any trace had emerged as new threats.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate has so far launched 61 money laundering cases and many of them are under investigation and trial, he said, adding that the recovery of stolen money was very low and it was less than $500 million across the globe.
Praising the laws and rules relating to anti-money laundering measures along with the strategy, JoAnne Wagner, charge d’affaires of US embassy in Dhaka, said that the attention now should be given to enforcement.
Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir presided over the seminar where finance ministry senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam spoke, among others.