For five years in a row, deposits from Bangladesh in Swiss banks have risen on average 20 percent every year since 2013, to Tk5,575. Over the years, as per the Global Financial Integrity report in 2014, Bangladesh has lost between 6 and 9 billion USD to illegal money outflow.
There was a time when India was topping the charts of GFI reports, but policy reforms in India and an annual automatic exchange of banking information with Switzerland paved the way for getting financial information on bank accounts held by Indian citizens in that country and vice-versa led to nearly a 50 percent drop in Indian deposits in Swiss banks over a one year period.
The finance minister has said that government steps to prevent laundering of money would be visible next month. And that is what begs the question. Given that the data of deposits in Swiss banks has been in public domain since 1996, and that there has been a steady increase in the deposit amount every year since 2005, why has no effective action been taken as yet to determine whether those are legally transferred amount or otherwise, and appropriate measures taken to stymie the illegal outflow of money. And more so, when there is the Money Laundering Act which was amended in 2012, during the tenure of this government.
It is regrettable that while legal means of money transfer outside the country faces many restrictions there seems to be no impediment to illegal transfer and no palpable effective measures to prevent them. Has the government done anything to find out the final destination of the several thousand crores taken out of some state owned banks like the Basic Bank?
While there are adequate rules and regulations there is little implementation, as per the view of the Asia / Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) that visited Bangladesh last year. And thus one may ask why this apparent reluctance for decisive action. Is the administration worried that it would release a can of worms?