High Court wants names of Bangladeshis who park funds in Swiss banks

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-02-28 21:34:04 BdST


The High Court has ordered the authorities to make a list detailing how many Bangladeshis have how much money stashed away in the banks of Switzerland.

The bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim on Sunday also ordered a report on the government steps to bring the money back from the foreign banks.

The orders came after the hearing of a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Abdul Qayyum Khan and Subir Nandi Das on Feb 1 seeking order for proper steps to recover the money laundered to foreign banks, including those in Switzerland.

Lawyer Qayyum stood for himself and Das in the hearing while Md Khurshid Alam Khan represented the Anti-Corruption Commission. Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and his deputy AKM Amin Uddin Manik argued for the state.

The court in a set of rules asked why the authorities’ inaction to recover money stashed by Bangladeshi citizens or companies and clandestine entities in foreign banks, especially those in Switzerland, will not be declared ultra vires or beyond their legal authority and illegal.

The judges want to know why the authorities will not be ordered to investigate the Bangladeshi citizens and companies named in Panma Papers and Paradise Papers, and report on progress in the investigation every month.

The High Court also asked why it will not order the government to form a special investigation team to exam, observe and control money laundering and terror financing by Bangladeshi citizens or companies or other entities.

The respondents of the rules are the finance secretary, the principal secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, bank and financial institutions secretary, commerce secretary, foreign secretary, home secretary, law secretary, chairmen of ACC, Bangladeh Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Bank governor and deputy governor, registrar of the joint stock companies and firms, and the inspector general of police.

The court has given them four weeks to respond and set Mar 30 to resume hearing and for next orders.

The ACC said in the hearing that it was investigating those named in Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. They include Abdul Awal Mintoo andg Moosa Bin Shamser.

The foreign ministry, home ministry, Immigration Police and other relevant agencies have been informed about bringing back the money from the Swiss banks while Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit is making a plan to recover the funds.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam said the hearing on the writ petition filed on Feb 1 and the rules issued by the court on its own volition 21 last year seeking names of Bangladeshis who laundered money in Canada will be held together.

The High Court on Dec 21 last year ordered a list of Bangladeshi nationals suspected of money laundering and corruption with dual citizenship and passports.

Attorney General Amin Uddin said the state sought more time to submit the names of the dual citizens, who have submitted their passports to the home ministry.

It will be a huge list of around 14,000 people, he added.

Foreign Minister AK Momen confirmed some cases of money laundering to Canada at an event on Nov 18, 2020.

Most of the money launderers are government officials, followed by politicians and businessmen, he said. The minister, however, did not mention any name.

The media reported on Begum Para, a Bengali dominated neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada, where many Bangladeshis have bought houses with millions of dollars laundered from Bangladesh.

On Nov 22, the High Court asked for the details of money launderers and the actions taken against them.