BB failed to get info about Bangladeshi depositors in Swiss banks

Posted by BankInfo on Sun, Jul 02 2017 11:24 am

The total deposit by Bangladeshi citizens in various Swiss banks totalled Tk5,566 crore in 2016, and Tk4,417 crore in 2015

The Bangladesh government has already sought information about Bangladeshi depositors in Swiss banks but are yet to receive a reply, said Finance Division officials.

They said Bangladesh Bank had sent several letters to the Swiss National Bank over the last three years seeking the information. But the SNB authorities have never answered.

However, India will be receiving information about the country’s depositors in Swiss banks under the “Automatic Exchange of Information” agreement signed between Switzerland and India.

As there is no such agreement with Bangladesh, the government will again seek information on depositors  in Swiss banks, as SNB data shows that deposits by the Bangladeshis surged by 19% in 2016 from a year ago.

Also Read – Bangladeshi money in Swiss banks jumps by 19%

Officials said the information will help Bangladesh take back money believed to be laundered there.

Last May, Switzerland bent to pressure from the United States and the European Union and relaxed its law of secrecy, which for generations has been the principal cause of attraction for deposits.

Following the development, the Federal Banking Commission of Switzerland said that it would abolish the so-called Form B bank accounts that have enabled dictators, drug barons, arms dealers and the like to keep ill-gotten gains in Switzerland without disclosing their identity.

Swiss bank insiders said the change in rules could shed light on rumours that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of Iraq deposited a fortune in Switzerland.

Swiss banks have denied holding any accounts in Hussein’s name, but the insiders said his money could be held in Form B accounts.

On Thursday, the SNB published a series of annual reports which revealed that deposits by Bangladeshi citizens have gone up significantly.

The report for the year 2016 disclosed that there has been a 19% increase in deposits since 2015. The total deposit by Bangladeshi citizens in various Swiss banks totalled Tk5,566 crore in 2016, and Tk4,417 crore in 2015.

It was also revealed that, despite the reduction in foreign currency deposits in Swiss banks over the last few years, deposits by Bangladeshi citizens have been increasing steadily.

Switzerland has been famous for secret bank deposits by wealthy people for a long time. While depositing the money, the name and address of the depositor was kept confidential and the money was kept on the basis of a code number.

But since 2002, the Money Laundering Prevention Act has been widely implemented to prevent money laundering worldwide.  As a result, they have been publishing information on deposits from different countries since.

Among the letters sent by Bangladesh Bank to SNB, one sought the possibility to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the SNB. It has not received any response yet.

Bangladesh’s central bank also sent two letters to SNB seeking wealth information about controversial Bangladeshi businessman Moosa Bin Shamsher and his family. SNB didn’t respond.

It is alleged that a large amount of money was laundered from different branches of multinational bank HSBC to SNB from Bangladesh.

SNB signed agreements with 22 countries including India and Pakistan during the last several years.

Former Finance Adviser to the caretaker government AB Miza Azizul Islam claimed wealthy people who launder money out of Bangladesh to Swiss banks enjoyed political backing.

Most of the money was laundered by unscrupulous businessmen through under and over-invoicing in international trade, he said.

“The government should take stern action against those dishonest wealthy people having deposits in Swiss banks by seeking information,” Mirza Aziz told the Dhaka Tribune.

Subhankar Saha, executive director of Bangladesh Bank, said different government agencies including Bangladesh Bank are “trying to take strict measures against the money laundering by Bangladeshi businessmen through over and under-invoicing.”

However all of the deposits by Bangladeshis in Swiss banks were not directly from Bangladesh and a large portion of the money came from across the globe, he added.

news:dhaka tribune/2-jul-2017