Bangladeshis launder billions of dollars to the US, UK and EU nations


While the United States is going to launch severe actions against thousands of Bangladeshis who have laundered billions of dollars and deposited hugely in American banks and purchased properties, the United Kingdom and EU nations though are openly speaking against money-laundering and dirty cash, they are yet to take any measures against those who already have laundered hundreds of millions of dollars into those countries.

According to the information revealed by an organization named ‘National Strategy for Prevention of Money Laundering and Combating Finance of Terrorism’, the top ten countries in which money is laundered from Bangladesh are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Cayman Islands, and British Virgin Islands.

Back in 2020, Washington-based ‘Global Financial Integrity’ (GFI) in a report said that an average amount ranging between US$3.7 million to US$753 million were smuggled out of Bangladesh mostly through international trade. In Bangladesh it is around 80 thousand crores (according to the conversion rate of that year). According to the annual 2021 report of the Central Bank of Switzerland, the amount of money deposited by Bangladeshis in various banks of that country was 871.1 million Swiss francs, which is about 8 thousand and 275 crores in Bangladesh currency (according to the conversion rate of that year).

The GFI ranked Bangladesh among the top 30 countries globally with around 20 percent of its international trade value being siphoned out of the country every year. The alleged hot spots are the UK, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and so on.

According to the report, the exponential growth in money-laundering has become a serious threat to Bangladesh’s rising economy, hindering economic good governance and social justice. It has turned into a safe avenue for white-collar criminals, i.e., business tycoons, corrupt politicians, public officials and their criminal enterprises.

According to an annual report 2020 of the Basel Institute of Governance, a not-for-profit Swiss Foundation under Basel University, Bangladesh is among the top 40 countries in the world in terms of risk for money laundering and terrorist financing.

The country ranked 38th among 141 countries on the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index of 2020. Moreover, the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published – in the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017 – a long list of Bangladeshi money launderers. Bangladeshi media also reported many names of money launderers at various times.

The US-based research group, Center for Advanced Defense Studies (CADS) published a report in 2022. According to their report, 459 Bangladeshis have purchased a total number of 972 residential properties in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. For this they spent US$315 million. More than 64 of such properties are located at Dubai Marina and 19 at Palm Jumeirah area. There are at least 5 villas owned by Bangladeshi nationals.

Meanwhile, it is learnt from various sources that Bangladeshi nationals are running various commercial and industrial ventures in the United Arab Emirates, where they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars, which was laundered from Bangladesh mainly through illegal hundi channels.

In a 2023 report, the Special Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh Police has identified 528 individuals who are involved in money-laundering. These individuals are from Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, and Khulna divisions. It said, an amount exceeding BDT 7.50 billion (750 crores) are being transacted through the money exchange companies in Bangladesh, whereas the monthly amount stands at BDT 22,500 cores. Majority of the amount is being smuggled-out of Bangladesh, mostly to countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Dubai, Malaysia, and the European Union nations. In the 2022-2023 budget, Bangladesh government allowed those individuals who had laundered money to foreign countries in bringing it back by paying 7 percent Offshore Amnesty Tax, although until date, no one has availed this opportunity.

According to the Transparency International, every year more than 10-15 billion US dollars are being smuggled out of Bangladesh. Another source said, during 2016-2020, more than SU$32 billion was smuggled-out of the country, whereas only in 2015, the amount smuggled was almost US$10 billion. With this amount, Bangladesh stands at the second position in South Asia – after India.

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