Tk 340 crore laundered through offshore banking

Published:  12:00 AM, 20 March 2017

AB Bank's Chairman under scrutiny

AB bank Chairman M Wahidul Haque

Offshore banking has become a new money laundering trick. Financial experts have said that a bank cannot launder money abroad unless top officials inside the bank are involved. According to sources concerned, money laundering through offshore banking is an organized financial crime.

Allegations have come up about the involvement of Arab Bangladesh Bank's offshore unit in this occurrence of money laundering.  Inquiry is going on in this connection against  Arab Bangladesh Bank's Chairman M Wahidul Haque. Dr. Abdur Razzak, Chairman, Parlia-mentary Committee on Finance Ministry said on Wednesday that Tk 340 crore has been transferred overseas through the offshore unit of Arab Bangladesh Bank (AB Bank).

He told the reporters following a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Abdul Muhith, State Minister MA Mannan and other members of the committee regarding the incidents of money laundering and taking actions against those who are doing so.

According to relevant sources, USD 4. 25 crore equal to Tk 340 crore was transferred to four foreign companies from AB Bank's offshore unit. Higher officials have laid emphasis on finding out for what reasons such a huge amount was transferred.

 It has been further informed that the money was transferred to Singapore and United Arab Emirates. Sources from the central bank have informed that proper initiatives have been taken to look into this allegation. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Bangladesh Bank have said that no one would be spared and legal actions would be taken against those responsible for this scam.

 However, a portion of this laundered money has been recovered through intervention of central bank, according to sources. Bangladesh Bank has also warned of  tough legal actions if AB Bank fails to recover the rest of the money shortly.

An official of Finance Ministry has remarked on condition of anonymity that offshore banking has some loopholes by means of which money can be illegally transferred to other countries. AB Bank's offshore unit has utilized these loopholes, he added. 

Last year money laundering scams from different countries got exposed through the leakage of Panama Papers. This sort of unauthorized money transfer can be easily carried out through offshore banking. A CID officer said that several persons from inside and outside Bangladesh were linked with this money laundering activities through offshore banking. The culprits are experienced in this type of crime, he further commented.

It may be added that M Wahidul Haque joined AB Bank in 2007 as a director. He became the bank's chairman in 2008 and he has been still holding this post.

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