Sunday, January 24, 2021 | ePaper

Multi-layer route to money laundering must stop

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THE New Nation on Saturday unveiled a curious case of "layering" of money laundering and financial crimes which also symbolizes similar cases started with suspicious loan sanctioning and its movement through multi-layer transactions running through many banks and multiple accounts. It then lose track at some points and laundered out of the country.   
A report unveiled by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) revealed that a financial institution issued a huge loan to a borrower and disburse loans, not only to the borrower companies but also to various fictitious accounts held with 40 different banks. The loans were given to several companies owned by the borrower. Of the 50 disbursed loans, 30 made transfer of nearly Tk 20 billion to the accounts of the borrower, his relatives and few directors and associates. His associates then parked Tk 4 billion in 30 accounts with just two banks, the BFIU's annual report for 2019-20 said.
There is no clear answer why respective bank branches failed to check customer with due-diligence during the opening of the accounts and also why ignored transaction monitoring despite enough suspicions that the funds being layered by the account holder. The loans were essentially sanctioned to fake companies and the borrower then used it to purchase shares of the lending financial institution buying shares from stock market. At one point the borrower becomes chairman of the firm and places his relatives and associates as directors to exercise decision making power.
The report said around Tk 32 billion was subsequently transferred out of the said financial institution's entire loan portfolio of Tk 50 billion making its coffer almost empty. The BFIU report however refrained from naming the fraudsters but possibly it may have referred to People's Leasing and Financial Services (PLFS), Reliance Finance Ltd, NRB Global Bank or such other financial institutions now left empty by money launderers.
We are appalled how such theft and money laundering is routinely taking place over the recent past to prove that even BFIU is no match to deal with the money laundering rackets.  It is indeed a shame how such a network was and there is no denying of the fact that a highly corrupt dysfunctional government is sheltering the mischief. It must stop.

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