The cabinet yesterday gave the final approval to the draft of the Money Laundering Prevention (Amendment) Act-2015, which limits the Anti-Corruption Commission's (ACC) authority to investigate only corruption and bribery related cases.
As per the proposed law, other agencies like police, the customs department, and the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) have got the direct authority to deal with all other offences including cheating, forgery, illegal arms trade, drugs trade, and abduction.
There are a total of 28 offences stipulated in the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2012, and it had given the commission the full authority to investigate all offences under the law. Even no court could take cognisance of any offence under this act, without ACC's approval.
ACC will now investigate only corruption and bribery related cases, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat.
The proposed law has provisions that joint teams of police, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and DNC will investigate money laundering offences in complex situations or when more than one of such crimes are involved.
Besides, it was proposed to strengthen the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) as it will have the operational autonomy or functional independence under the Bangladesh Bank.
Its head will be appointed through a government search committee and have the status of a deputy governor.
The governor will appoint skilled officials to the BFIU, drawing them from the central bank and other government agencies like NBR and DNC upon BFIU chief's recommendations, said the cabinet secretary.
The BFIU head will have the tenure of fours years and it will be renewable. The BFIU will submit its report to the National Coordination Committee concerned on prevention of money laundering through the governor.
The proposed amendments also increased the fine from Tk 10 lakh to Tk 20 lakh, but the jail terms remain the same -- four years minimum and 12 years maximum.
Musharraf said the finance minister, the law minister, and ACC had long been advocating for bringing necessary amendments to this act.
The central bank created the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit in 2012 to deal with financial crimes including money laundering.
The cabinet also gave the final approval to the draft of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Act-2015 that proposes to relieve ACC of the responsibility to deal with cheating and forgery cases if those do not involve government property, civil servants or bankers.
The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) hailed the cabinet decision, saying the proposed amendments would have positive impacts in fighting money laundering.
“I welcome the decision and see it positively. I hope money laundering related offences will be dealt in an organised way if the respective authorities work sincerely,” TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman told The Daily Star.
Referring to the huge deposits to the Swiss banks by Bangladeshis, he said money laundering was a sophisticated crime and its incidence was increasing in the country.
The TIB boss said if BFIU was made independent and assisted by ACC, NBR, the central bank and other agencies, it would be easy to fight money laundering.