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Suspicious transaction reporting up 62 per cent: BFIU

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Update : Monday, October 31, 2022

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The chief officer of BFIU, an organization dedicated to preventing money laundering. Masud Biswas said that Bangladesh Bank has been reviewing the import data for the past three months during the global dollar crisis. It has been observed that some products are overinvoiced by up to 200 percent. And as there is a duty of up to 300 percent on the import of cars, there is more under-invoicing or under-pricing. There is a lot of talk now about the decline in expatriate income. Expatriate dollars may have been bought and used for under-invoicing. Due to which the dollar coming in the banking channel is less.

He gave this information in response to questions from journalists at the annual report release ceremony of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) for the financial year 2021-22 on Monday. Money is usually laundered by overstating the price of imported goods. In response to another question, Masud Biswas said that once money is laundered in any way, it is difficult to get it back.

In the press conference at the meeting room of Bangladesh Bank, BFIU Deputy Chief Md. Nazrul Islam, Bangladesh Bank spokesperson and executive director Abul Kalam Azad, BFIU director Rafiqul Islam and Md. Arifuzzaman, Additional Director Kamal Hossain and Md. Various officials including Masud Rana were present.

According to the BFIU report, 8,571 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) were made by various reporting agencies including banks, financial institutions in the financial year 2021-22. It was 5 thousand 280 in the previous financial year. This means STR increased by 62.33 percent in one year. An increase in reporting does not necessarily mean an increase in suspicious transactions. Increased awareness and skills at various levels may result in more reports than before. Similarly, cash transaction reporting (CTR) increased by 46.23 percent to 21 thousand 113. It may have increased as a result of various incentive programs of the government post-Corona. However, the exchange of information between police, ACC and other agencies has decreased to 833 from 1,414 in the previous year. The banker’s book evidence amendment has reduced this as the police can take more information directly.

According to the report, a total of Tk 1,392 crore is deposited in the banking channel in the top 20 suspicious e-commerce companies. And 1 thousand 376 crore taka was withdrawn. According to these institutions, only 14 crore rupees are deposited. Inspection reports on various institutions have been submitted in light of the High Court’s directives.

In response to a question, Masud Biswas said, money is laundered from the country, it is right. However, BFIU does not have the exact amount of money being laundered. The information given in the reports of various international organizations including GFI, has different accounting methods. However, once money is laundered, it is difficult to get it back. According to the United Nations, less than 1 percent of money laundered from different countries around the world is recovered. Due to which now different countries of the world are trying to recover money through tax collection system. There is such an announcement in the budget of the current financial year in Bangladesh.

In response to another question, he said, apart from banking channels, MFS, money laundering information is being investigated through apps like Bigo, Likey. Any discrepancy is reported to the law enforcement agencies.

He said that Bangladesh Bank has restricted the opening of LC in various cases. Supervision has been strengthened in case of large LCs. No over invoicing now. Even a few months ago LCs were being opened to the tune of $8 billion per month. Now it is down to $5 billion. Finding out where under invoicing occurs along with over invoicing. Initially it seems that there is more under-invoicing in car imports. Because, 200 to 300 percent duty has to be paid on the car. If someone can show lower price then he has to pay less duty.

He said that as a result of strengthening supervision, money laundering under the guise of trade has decreased. It will decrease further in the future.

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