Bangladeshi nationals’ deposits with various Swiss banks rose to Tk 5,347 crore (617.72 million Swiss Francs) in 2018 from Tk 4,166 crore (481.31 million Francs) in 2017 with a year on year growth of 28.34%.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) came up with the data in its annual report titled “Banks in Switzerland 2018” recently.
The amount decreased to around 481.31 millionSwiss francs in 2017 from 661.96 million francs in 2016. Money parked by Bangladeshis in the Swiss banks totalled around 550.85 million francs in 2015, and 506.04 million francs in 2014.
Experts explained that deposits in Swiss banks usually increase if the rate of money laundering from Bangladesh goes up and when non-resident Bangladeshis, including businessmen, deposit money in those banks. The experts said that money laundering increased during national election of 2018 to avoid post election uncertainty. Most of the money was laundered by unscrupulous businessmen through ‘under-and over-invoicing’ in international trade.
Over the last four years, the central bank has been seeking information from the Swiss banks about Bangladeshi depositors, but did not receive any reply, according to finance ministry officials. Bangladesh bank also sent two letters to Swiss National Bank (SNB) seeking information about controversial Bangladeshi businessman Moosa Bin Shamsher, but didn’t get any response.
However, India receives information about its depositors in Swiss Banks as India has “Automatic Exchange of Information” agreement with the country.
Financial deposits held by Bangladeshis in Swiss banks fell by over a quarter in 2017 after Switzerland bent to pressure from the US, and the European Union, and relaxed its secrecy law.
However, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based research organisation, showed on report published in 2017 that Bangladesh lost between $6 billion and $9 billion to illegal money outflows in 2014. The GFI also published its latest report in January this year which said some $5.9 billion was siphoned out of Bangladesh in 2015 through trade misinvoicing.
Swiss banks, with their strict confidentiality, have also proven to be a safe haven for those looking to conceal their wealth.