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Bilateral Agreement with Countries Fundamental to Stop Illicit Financial Flow

Money Laundering in BangladeshDhaka, 1st July 2014. Today twelve right based civil society organizations including farmers and labour organizations organized a human chain and rally in front of national press club and urged political consensus among major two parties instead of the blame game on the issue of illicit financial flow. They also urged government to publish white paper on the issue and to initiate bilateral agreements with Switzerland and other countries on in this regard and to stop illicit financial flow as the developed countries are doing nowadays.

The rally was mainly participated by Online Knowledge Society, Arpon, EquityBD, Unnayan Dhara Trust, MKS, Kishani Shova, Coastal Development Partnership, Jatiya Sromik Jote, Development Synergy Institute, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Bhumihin Somity, Somaj, Bangladesh Agriculture Labor Federation and Sangsoptok. The speech session of the rally was moderated by Mosafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD while the other speakers were Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD, Subol Sarkar of Bhumihin Somity, Golam Sarwar of Bangladesh Agricultural Labour Federation, Badurl Alam of Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD.

The group in its printed leaflet said that the illicit financial flow from Bangladesh towards other countries is much easier than sending money through official channels. When the illicit financial flows from developed countries to Switzerland is declining at a record low rate, the same from the poor countries like Bangladesh is skyrocketing. Deposits by Bangladeshi citizens at various Swiss Banks rose by 62% year-on-year in 2013. There are information of illicit financial flow to Canada and Malaysia too.

To comply with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) principles Switzerland offered Bangladesh DTAA (Double Taxing Avoidance and Agreement) during 2007 where Bangladesh should have asked for including bank accounts information but the then government didn’t show any interest for that clause. The Swiss Finance Minister said to the House of Representatives in a press release dated 23rd September 2009, “Bangladesh has not been interested in an amendment. It is a typical example of a country saying that it is not interested, or not yet interested, in the OECD standard (tax information exchange on request).” It is a shame for the nation.

Golam Sarwar of Bangladesh Agricultural Labor Federation said that it is the poor migrant workers who send money from abroad and it is our poor garment workers earned foreign currencies and enriched our remittance but it is the corrupt political leaders and bureaucrats who transferred those hard-earned foreign currencies through illicit ways. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquiyBD said that law and agreements might help to reduce this illicit flow but until and unless there are a sense of security among people and businessman, illicit flow will not stop. The political parties primarily must to stop confrontational politics in this regard, he added.

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