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1.45m cash transactions in Mar reported

No terror-financing link so far

Rezaul Karim | June 25, 2019 00:00:00

Bangladesh Bank (BB) did not find any terror or money-laundering links with more than 1.45 million cash transactions in March this year.

The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) received over 1.45-million cash transaction reports (CTRs) in March 2019 and some 263 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in May from scheduled banks.

The reports are however, being reviewed intensely to unearth such links by the regulator, officials said.

Banks have to report to the BB if an amount of Tk 1.0 million and above is deposited in or withdrawn from a particular account in a single day.

When contacted, Md Serajul Islam, a BB executive director, said: "If an account holder exceeds his/her transaction ceiling, we scrutinise it."

Section 23(1) (A) of the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012 has empowered the BFIU to obtain CTRs from the reporting organisations and analyse the same.

The information contained in CTRs is used to analyse STR, SAR (suspicious activity report), complaints, off-site supervision and for strategic AMT and CFT issues, according to the BFIU.

Section 25 (1) (D) of the laundering prevention act and section 16 (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 have obliged the reporting organisations to submit STRs spontaneously to the BFIU.

Banks submitted CTRs of 14.70-million transactions in fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 and non-banking institutions only 2,330, according to the annual report of BB.

A system to report any suspicious transactions or activities has been introduced to protect the reporting entities from being exploited by money launderers and terror financers.

The number of reports on suspicious transactions and activities regarding money laundering and terror financing is rising in the country, a source said.

The BFIU annual report showed the total number of STRs and SARs climbed to 3,878 in FY '18 against 2,357 reports in FY '17.

The intelligence unit does not disclose details about transactions and those behind such dealings.

Of the total reports submitted in FY '18, the number of STRs and SARs was 2,069 and 1,809 respectively. It was 1,267 and 1,090 respectively in FY '17.

The BFIU said such mammoth STRs and SARs indicate a strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing network.

It received the highest number of STRs in August 2017 and most SARs only a month ago in July.

However, the volume of suspicious transactions decreased in the last one year.

It was Tk 9217.50 million in FY '18 against Tk 11637.70 million in the previous FY.

The BFIU prioritises STRs, SARs and complaints on the basis of some predefined indicators and then a competent analyst is assigned to review it.

The analyst collects additional information from reporting entities, investigators and law-enforcement agencies, regulatory authorities, foreign FIUs and open-source intelligence, it said.

After analysis, the case is disseminated to the authorities for the next course of action.

BFIU disseminated 677 STRs and SARs to Anti-Corruption Commission, Criminal Investigation Department and the National Board of Revenue, among others, for further measures.

Banks review transactions by customers on a regular basis. They also report to the BFIU after any suspicion transactions are found, a BFIU official said.

The BB departments concerned would take action against terror financing as per existing laws, he added.

The country's banking system has an estimated 124 million accounts.

The 2019 Global Financial Integrity report on illicit financial flows to and from developing countries showed at least $5.90 billion flew out of Bangladesh in 2015 through misinvoicing in international trade with advanced economies.

Illicit inflows from other countries to Bangladesh stood at $2.8 billion in 2015, it also revealed.

The 2017 report showed annual average illicit capital outflow from Bangladesh stood at $7.58 billion during 2005-2014, and the amount was $9.10 billion in 2014.

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