Bangladesh to enact new law to bring back siphoned money

The new law will resort to Mutual Assistance to bring back the black money.

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2010, 13:55 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh is proposing a new law to bring back millions of dollars stashed away illegally by politicians and businessmen during the past one decade.

Under the new law, the authorities instead of seeking harsh punishment will resort to Mutual Assistance to bring back the black money, media reports said.

"The law will be called Mutual Assistance Act and its draft will be presented before Parliament for approval next June," newspapers quoted Finance Minister AMA Muhith as telling reporters at a briefing yesterday.

Muhith said the proposed law would provide Bangladesh the access to any information regarding siphoned-off money to various countries while the anti-graft inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would advise the government to prepare the law by December next year.

"We know those who smuggle money abroad, they cleverly accomplish the task...but we are taking all sorts of initiatives to bring back the siphoned-off money," Muhith said.

He said Bangladesh needs agreements with other countries to get any information about the money laundering but the proposed law would enable the country to have access to information on siphoned money abroad without having a bilateral deal.

The issue of repatriation of siphoned-off money surfaced during the past military-backed interim administration under emergency rule in 2007-2008 when officials said they estimated millions of dollars were smuggled out by corrupt politicians and businessmen.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had last year formally accused former prime minister and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia`s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko of siphoning 28.84 lakh Singaporean dollars and USD 9.32 lakh out of the country.

This charge came as the ACC carried out the investigation teaming up with the United States and British authorities to recover millions of dollars stashed by Koko and several other high-profile suspects in Singapore banks.

Essential documents from Singapore were obtained following a legal assistance request under the UN Convention against corruption during the past military-backed interim government in collaboration with the Attorney General`s Office, ACC sources said.

Nearly a dozen government officials earlier took part in a specially designed training course titled "Stolen Assets Recovery" in Switzerland under the sponsorship of World Bank as part of the anti-graft campaign.

World Bank vice-president Praful C Patel had earlier said Bangladeshi assets had either been stolen or smuggled outside the country for the last several years while "corruption had eaten up nearly three percent of the country`s growth rate”.

PTI