FinCEN Files: Three Bangladeshi banks linked to suspicious transactions

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2020-09-22 13:38:52 BdST


Three Bangladeshi banks have reportedly been linked to eight suspicious international transactions.

The transactions were worth $832,937, according to a report released by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Sunday.

The report was based on the data from the United States Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The FinCEN Files is a cache of financial intelligence reports that reveals the role of global banks in industrial-scale money laundering.

The three banks named in the report are two private lenders -- Islami Bank and Social Islami Bank and state-run Rupali Bank. The report does not confirm any illegal activity in these transactions.

All transactions took place between 2014 and 2016.

Islami Bank Bangladesh made three transactions and received $336,133 from ANZ, an Australian bank, in 2016.

In 2014, Social Islami Bank received $1,600 from Regionala Investiciju Banka in Latvia in a single transaction, according to the report.

State-owned Rupali Bank sent $495,204 in four “suspicious” transactions in 2016 to Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

Those eight transactions extracted from the FinCEN Files showed how suspicious transfers flowed to and from Bangladesh.

Quazi Osman Ali, managing director and CEO of the Social Islami Bank, said they were checking the transaction which had taken place much earlier.

The money came to one of its clients in the form of remittance, he said. “He is still our client and a reputed businessman,” Ali said adding that they often receive such remittances.

Mahbub ul Alam, managing director and CEO of Islami Bank, said the three transfers of “remittances” mentioned in the FinCEN Files were “regular export earnings” by a top knitwear exporter.

The bank had reported the information to Bangladesh Bank properly, he said. “There is nothing to suspect here.”

An American bank had reported the transactions as suspicious, but the authorities did not take steps to collect information or investigate these, he said. Finally, the transactions had been considered disposed of, he said. 

Obayed Ullah Al Masud, managing director and CEO of Rupali Bank, did not take phone calls from for comment.

Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, chief of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, said the American financial intelligence agency was checking the issue.

The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, a platform for the FIUs of 165 countries, has asked its other members not to speak publicly about the issue, according to Hassan.