The High Court on Sunday expressed its anger over the respondents including the finance ministry and Bangladesh Bank as they didn’t submit any report complying with its earlier order that sought the names of the Bangladeshi nationals who deposited money in the banks of Switzerland (Swiss banks) and what steps have been taken to bring back that money.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice SM Mozibur Rahman said, “This court asked the respondents to submit report over the money launderers as an affidavit. But none of the respondents except the IGP has submitted any report, why? Why they didn’t send any report to the court?”
The court also said, “This is a very sensitive issue. This is not like other cases. A big amount of money of the common people has been laundered abroad. We want to see what step has been taken against the launderers. It is respondents’ duty to inform the court over their steps. So the respondents are bound to comply with the court order. We want to know who are those persons, organisations and entities.”
Earlier on February 28 this year, the High Court wanted to know the names of the Bangladeshi nationals, companies and other entities who have deposited money in the foreign banks particularly the banks of Switzerland and what steps have been taken to bring back that money.
Finance secretary, PMO secretary, commerce secretary, foreign secretary, home secretary, law secretary, ACC, Bangladesh Bank governor, IGP and other respondents had been asked to comply with the order within April 18.
But among the respondents only the IGP recently sent a report over the money launderers which was placed in the court on Sunday. The other respondents even didn’t send any compliance over the issue.
The state counsel, Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik, could not give any satisfactory answer over why the other respondents didn’t comply with the court order.
Mr Manik said, “We are trying to communicate with the respondents. Everything was stopped for a long time due to the Covid-19 situation. The respondents face difficulties during this time. We also couldn’t communicate with them.”
At one stage of the hearing the deputy attorney general sought one month time for the respondents. Then the court fixed November 21 as the next hearing date and asked the respondents to comply with the earlier order within this time.
Two Supreme Court lawyers, Abdul Kaiyum Khan and Subir Nandi Das, filed a petition on February 01 this year with the High Court seeking its directive upon the respondents to take appropriate steps for bringing back of the laundered money from foreign banks including the Swiss banks.
Following the petition the High Court on February 28 passed an order including a ruling.
In the ruling the court wanted to know from the respondents as to why their failure and inaction to arrange for recovery of large amounts of money laundered by Bangladeshi citizens or companies or other entities which were secreted and deposited in foreign banks and in particular in Swiss banks should not be declared illegal.
In the ruling the court also wanted to know from the respondents as to why a direction upon the respondents should not be given to initiate immediate probe on upon Bangladeshi companies and citizens and other entities whose names have been disclosed in the Panama Paper and Paradise Paper leaks and to submit progress report before this court in every month.
The court also wanted to know as to why a direction should not be issued to form a Special Investigation Team to act as watchdog to combat corruption and money laundering with a view to monitoring, observing and controlling all issues relating to existing or previous money laundering by Bangladeshi citizens or companies.
But the respondents didn’t comply with the ruling even though eight months have already passed.