Dhaka seeks to retrieve money smuggled out of country

September 23rd, 2008 - 1:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 23 (IANS) Bangladesh has sent memorandum of understanding (MoU) drafts to India and 14 other countries to seek information and retrieve money siphoned off by its politicians, officials and businessmen.”The countries concerned are examining the draft MoUs at present and the agreement will be signed as soon as they agree,” a highly placed official of Bangladesh Bank said Monday.

Apart from India, Bangladesh is looking to sign these agreements with the US, Britain, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Mauritius, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, the UAE, Maldives, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, The Daily Star said.

Last month, Bangladesh signed an MoU with Malaysia to bring back the money smuggled out of the country and vice versa. However, the government has not yet sought any information regarding any corruption suspects or their smuggled money even a month after signing of such an agreement, the newspaper noted.

Bangladesh Bank sources said that the bank can seek information from Kuala Lumpur only after a government agency initiates a process seeking information about corruption suspects.

The draft MoU says that both countries will share information regarding specific corruption suspects.

“Bangladesh can ask for money back only after it is proven in a Bangladeshi court that the money was illegally gained and smuggled out of the country,” the bank’s official said, referring to the proposal.

“It is not expected that all the countries have corruption suspects and money has been smuggled out of the country concerned but the agreement will remain in place in case such a situation ever arises,” the official added.

When the government initiated efforts to bring back money smuggled out of the country, the efforts failed as there were no agreements to the effect between the concerned countries.

The present military-backed caretaker government that took office in January last year has for the past 20 months conducted an anti-graft drive, nabbing and trying over 200 politicians and officials for corruption. Many former ministers and lawmakers have been convicted by courts for amassing wealth and sending funds out illegally.

However, the drive has come to a virtual halt with the courts rejecting the rules and procedures the government followed and having bailed out about 200 people. The politicians among them are preparing for the parliamentary elections that the government announced for Dec 18.

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