WITH a former HSBC banker blowing the top off the bank's scandal and the French authorities launching a full blown investigation in 2008, evidence has emerged that nationals of Bangladeshi origin are among those suspected of money laundering between the years 1985 and 2006. It is estimated that some 106,000 clients from 203 countries had deposits worth US$102.05 billion of which $13 million belonged to Bangladeshis. Although the leaked document and subsequent media reports do not reveal the names of account holders, we understand that the central bank is attempting to track down details.
Given that Bangladesh has taken a tough stance on money laundering, it is imperative that suspected money laundering activities are treated with all seriousness regardless of the background of individuals involved. The HSBC leak is but one instance of whistle blowing and now that Swiss banking laws have changed which no longer tolerate shady transfer of funds, it opens up a golden opportunity for Bangladesh to look into such instances of illegal money transfer and deposits abroad by unscrupulous individuals. We certainly welcome efforts by the central bank in its attempt to track down undisclosed funds abroad for the purposes of tax evasion and curbing graft. If these individuals can be brought to answer for their actions, it would set a huge precedent to better financial governance in the country. A failure to do that needs to be done would only encourage the belief that graft is an acceptable practice, which it is not.