Black money gets a twist
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has modified scope for black money to be invested in stocks and said money earned through criminal acts will not be allowed into the markets.
Black money in stocks will not be questioned under the income tax law, but other laws can be applied against such investment, the tax administrator said in a circular yesterday.
The NBR amended the amnesty for black money following objections from an international anti-money laundering body, Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering.
While visiting Bangladesh in November, the APG high officials objected to the provision of not questioning the source of black money to be invested in stocks, a finance ministry official said.
If the provision had not been amended, the APG would have issued a worldwide public statement and banks of other countries would not open L/Cs (Letters of Credit) for Bangladeshi banks, the official said.
"The NBR made the right decision. Regulators should not allow money earned by criminal acts into the markets," said Yawer Sayeed, managing director and CEO of AIMS of Bangladesh, an asset management company.
"I don't think there will be an impact on the stockmarket because of the decision. But some people may upset the markets by taking advantage of the amendment," he said.
In a desperate effort to boost the stockmarket, the government revived amnesty for investors in this year's budget to invest black money in stocks by paying 10 percent tax.
Now, the NBR made it clear that no question will be raised about the money invested in the stockmarket under the income tax law and the opportunity will remain valid until June 30.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, senior research fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the circular sets a clear distinction between black money and undisclosed money.
Black money indicates money earned through illegal and criminal acts, but undisclosed money may be legally earned but may not be duly reflected in tax files submitted by stock investors.
Undisclosed money includes funds borrowed from relatives or collected from other sources to buy stocks, Moazzem said.
Since the opening of BO (beneficiary owner) accounts does not necessarily require a tax identification number, transactions of undisclosed money and earnings may not be fully reflected in investors' tax files, Moazzem said.
It implies that it is not easy to detect illegal or undisclosed money transacted in the secondary market, he said.
The circular may not have a serious impact on transactions in the secondary market. From a legal point of view, it is a positive decision, Moazzem said.
The circular makes it clear that the government will not allow people to invest in stocks any money earned through criminal acts, he added.