Published on 01:38 PM, June 11, 2023

Money laundering from drugs trade: Bangladesh ranks 5th globally, 1st in Asia

Says UN report

Illustration: Collected

Bangladesh ranked fifth in the world and top in Asia in terms of money laundering from the illegal drugs trade, according to a report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report said drug trafficking in Bangladesh is estimated to have generated an annual average of $481 million in outward illicit financial flows (IFFs) between 2017 and 2021.

"This estimate includes the trafficking in methamphetamine tablets, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as buprenorphine and phensidyl," mentioned the report released on Thursday.

The report analyzes data from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Colombia, Ecuador, Maldives, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, and Peru over a period of five years (2017-2021).

For Bangladesh, the estimate covers the trafficking of drugs such as methamphetamine tablets (yaba), heroin, buprenorphine, and phensidyl.

The UNCTAD report reveals that Mexico holds the top position globally in terms of illegal drug money flows, followed by Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bangladesh.

Among the five Asian countries mentioned in the report, Bangladesh is the most prominent in terms of drug-related illicit financial flows, followed by Maldives and Nepal. Afghanistan and Myanmar hold the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

The report said Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, Maldives, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, and Peru have produced the first-ever national estimates of IFFs related to drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants with the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

"Such statistics are needed to shed light on the activities, sectors and channels most prone to illicit financial flows, pointing to where actions should be undertaken as a priority to curb these flows," said Anu Peltola, who heads UNCTAD's statistics work.