Dhaka, June 28, 2014: Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed deep concern over growing illicit flight of money out of the country, and called upon the government to take advantage of the relevant national and international legal instruments including UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to repatriate stolen assets and bring to justice those involved in this crime. TIB also called upon Governments of host countries to cooperate in sending the stolen money back and strengthen their legal and financial structures to stop hosting corrupt money.
Referring to recent disclosures by credible sources like the Swiss banking authority and UNDP, Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB said, “Illicit flight of capital has reached alarming level, costing as high as 30 percent of GDP. More importantly, rate of illegal outflow of capital from Bangladesh has allegedly become higher than that of any other country, which is a matter of deep disappointment and embarrassment. Time to arrest this ominous trend is now. We are encouraged by the Prime Minister’s announcement on June 27 that her government will bring the money back. Given the necessary political will, it is in fact in the capacity of the Government and relevant agencies of the Government to repatriate stolen assets and prevent further outflow by ensuring exemplary punishment to those found guilty of this crime”.
“We call upon the Government of Bangladesh to immediately arrange Mutual Legal Assistance with the Swiss and other Governments of host countries of corrupt money so that stolen assets can be brought back”, the statement said. As a State Party to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), Bangladesh can secure legal and technical cooperation and support from other State Parties of the Convention. The recent repatriation of corrupt money from Singapore is an example.
“We call upon the Government, and particularly Bangladesh Bank, Anti-corruption Commission, National Board of revenue and the Attorney General’s office to launch a coordinated effort to take advantage of the opportunity created by Bangladesh’s membership of UNCAC and Egmont Group”, Iftekharuzzaman said.
“The primary responsibility for such international corruption does lie in the systemic weaknesses and governance deficit in Bangladesh. Enforcement of laws, effective monitoring and accountability at the supply side through highest level of political commitment without fear or favour are indispensable”, he added.
“However, we are also deeply concerned that a welcoming environment for laundered money in the capital markets of the recipient economies remains no less an offender”, he further said. Some such countries like Switzerland have recently become more proactive than before in facilitating repatriation of stolen money to the countries of origin, which may be helpful for Bangladesh.
“Nevertheless, legal and financial incentives in host countries continue to create the demand and scope of landing of corrupt money in their countries. We, therefore, call upon host governments of stolen money to not only fully cooperate with the Government of Bangladesh to freeze and send the illicit money back, but also undertake further stringent reforms in a manner that flow of illicit money can be totally stopped”, the statement said.