Swiss banks, second home and "Begum Palli" | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 15, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:59 AM, July 15, 2017


Swiss banks, second home and "Begum Palli"

Is the government serious about money laundering?

In the wake of the reports that there has been year on year increase in the amount of deposits of Bangladeshi account holders in Swiss banks, we are informed by a report in the leading Bangla daily of the country that Bangladeshis rank third among those who have made Malaysia their 'second home'. Malaysia is another destination of laundered money from Bangladesh, invested in a very well publicised project of the Malaysian government. And who does not know of the “Begum Palli,” an honorific given to a locality of Toronto where the wives and children of the rich and power in Bangladesh have flashy residence. 

Money laundering has been a plague for this country. Reportedly, illicit financial flow, or IFF, a euphemism for money laundering, from Bangladesh between 2005 and 2016 has been between 6 and 9 billion dollars. Regrettably, the government's attempt to address this matter has at best been lackadaisical as the statements of the finance minister that the amount of money laundered in Swiss banks is too insignificant to take note of, exemplifies. The 19 percent increase from 2015, is too much even for a finance minister to dismiss off hand as being over stated by the media. 

Given that the nature of money that lends itself to free flow beyond borders, we have not seen adequate measures to create incentives for the investors to keep, and invest, money at home. Small sums laundered, gradually accrete into large amounts and are tied up with the culture of loan default and other financial mismanagement to which the government has turned a blind eye. This attitude must be purged.

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