Published at: The Financial Express, February 18, 2019
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has issued the long-awaited rules of the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012 by defining working areas of the investigators.
Six government entities empowered to probe corruption have got the authority to submit charge sheets to a court upon completion of their respective investigations.
According to MoF and customs officials, the government agencies were earlier not sure about their authority to submit charge sheets in the absence of such rules.
Some wings, including customs, were facing difficulties upon completion of money-laundering investigations.
In the rules, the MoF made clear which entities of the government will investigate what types of corruption, mentioned in the money laundering act.
They will have to apprise the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) in an MoF-prescribed format on their areas of investigation and relevant cases.
The government has issued the rules seven years after passing the Money Laundering Prevention Act and three years after its amendment.
The Financial Institutions Division (FID) has issued the ‘Money Laundering Prevention Rule-2019′ through a gazette notification dated February 13.
Talking to the FE on Sunday, FID secretary Ashadul Islam said the rules would help the entities know the process of law enforcement.
“We hope the newly issued rules would help smooth implementation of the money laundering law. The guidelines on the implementation of the law are well-defined in the rules,” he said.
About the delay in issuing the rules, Mr Islam said the division concerned carefully scrutinised before issuing the rules to avoid any contradiction with other laws.
The MoF framed the rules carefully so that genuine businesses enjoy a hassle-free environment.
In the rules, the ministry has categorised 27 types of corruption relating to money laundering.
Of the entities, the Criminal Investigation Department has been empowered to investigate some 21 out of 27 types of corruption, separately or with other entities.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Narcotics Control Department, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Directorate of Environment and Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission are other investigating authorities.
Customs commissioner Dr Moinul Khan, who was involved in the process of formulating the rules, said the investigators were having difficulty with submitting charge sheets in the absence of the rules.
The money laundering rules are framed incorporating a wide area of corruption which should be made more concise, he added.
Mr Khan said the NBR needed to develop its capacity so that it can go for prosecution too.
The rules incorporate corruption, bribe, fake currency trading, extortion, cheating, embezzlement, illegal weapon, drug or addictive products trading, smuggling, hijack, kidnap, murder or serious physical injury, women and child smuggling, hoarding, black marketing, siphoning local and foreign currencies, theft, robbery and human trafficking. Dowry, tax and customs-related corruption, violation of intellectual property rights, terror financing, production of adulterated products, environmental crime, sexual assault, corruption relating to capital market (insider trading and market manipulation), organised crime and realizing money through threats are also included as crimes.
The MoF gave prescribed formats of investigation form, request letter for freezing or suspending bank accounts’ operation, information collection from banks and financial institutions through BFIU and foreign FIUs.
As per the rules, a high-powered national coordination committee will be formed with the finance minister in the chair.
A working committee will also be formed under the leadership of the FID secretary to extend necessary cooperation to the national committee.
The government framed the money laundering act in 2012 with a provision of four to 12 years in jail.
It was amended in 2015 empowering the NBR, police and other entities to conduct investigation.
Earlier, the ACC was responsible for probing all sorts of money-laundering charges.
Other agencies could join the investigation only if the ACC took them on board.