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Dhaka approaching countries to recover ‘stolen’ money


Dhaka : Bangladesh is planning to sign formal agreements with several governments to recover funds that it says were illegally deposited in foreign banks by politicians, officials and businessmen suspected of corruption.

Malaysia, Philippines, Britain, Singapore and Indonesia are among the countries that have been approached, even as the current interim government has succeeded in recovering millions by declaring amnesty at home.

Sources said the repatriation of stolen money is set to become a lengthy process as Dhaka has decided to go for deals with governments instead of banking regulators of foreign countries, the New Age newspaper reported Monday.

In a drive against corruption during which it has detained over 200,00 people, the government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed had earlier sought to engage the central banks of these countries.

Draft agreements had been sent to Bank Negara of Malaysia and to the central banks of Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

However, in a change of plans under legal advice that cites The Anti Money Laundering Act 2002, Dhaka is to approach the governments in these and other countries.

The change of strategy has led to scepticism. Unnamed finance and banking officials told the newspaper that the government’s change of mind would make the process “lengthy and complicated, and the plan might end up in a fiasco”.

Many politicians and officials, including those in jail and undergoing trial, have declared their funds. Some have been allowed to pay a penalty and retain the rest of the money.

It is suspected that Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and the US are among the major destinations of money siphoned off from the country during the last 10 years, the newspaper said quoting intelligence sources.

The government of former prime minister Khaleda Zia had enacted the Anti Money Laundering Act in 2002.

The present government unearthed a number of cases of money laundering during the Zia regime, but could not gather adequate information and evidences, the intelligence officials admitted.