The Financial Express

Non-resident Bangladeshi money: If only virtual

| Updated: December 24, 2021 21:20:22

Non-resident Bangladeshi money: If only virtual

Reports on how much money is taken away from Bangladesh each year are perplexing. The amount drained out of this growing economy in the past six years is, according to Global Financial Integrity, US$50 billion.

The actual amount may be much higher but it doesn't matter how big the fish in the waters was when one couldn't catch it.

The so-called black money largely did not stay in the territory where it's generated. Foreign currencies remitted by expatriate Bangladeshis are effectively sent into exile.

This non-living and often non-physical object is given shelter and welcomed by greedy hosts. They are some of the most developed countries and their banks and other financial institutions.

Leaders of the Third World countries from where the money is siphoned off, hardly blame the 'culprit' nations and their institutions. This is simply because corrupt regimes and their beneficiaries in the underdeveloped world are part of the problem.

Had the concerned governments plugged the systemic loopholes, the unregulated transfer of cash would not be possible so easily. Furthermore, should they kill off the sources of earning illicit money, even the most unpatriotic fellow couldn't have adequate surplus money to send abroad.

The reports of the flight of capital appear to be as vague as the journey and destination of the ill-gotten money. Under-invoicing and over-invoicing, hundi and any such means of illegal transfer, smuggling, and disguised profit repatriation- all such tactics used are mostly beyond the understanding of the commoners.

Names of the powerful moneyed men who move their hidden riches from the earth's one part to another remain invisible in the formal reports unless there are leaks that shake the financial world.

With superior technological capability and information (manipulation) system, the hosts of the illicit money can easily retain their gentleman image since, they may justify, they've no liabilities in capturing the resources.

The situation, however, started changing once financial institutions like Swiss banks came under pressure to make public the reports of deposits coming from outside.

On the political front, criticism from an increasing number of immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America impelled policymakers and lawmakers of the receiving states to give a second thought about whether they should allow questionable money to come into their 'more civilized' countries.

The demonstration by non-resident Bangladeshis in Canada two years ago at least created some social stigma for a reported swindler named PK Halder who fled from Bangladesh. Of late, objections from the Bangladeshi-origin immigrants prevented the entry of a former state minister, Murad Hasan, into Canada after he had made misogynistic comments at home.

Taking money to another country evading formal channels is not merely an issue of lack of patriotism. We all know but not always say the reason why this invisible flight is so loathed but how the money is acquired is not done to the same extent. Thus its temporary owners are prompted to hide and send it elsewhere, lest they lose control of it or face legal actions at home in case of a changeover.

Authoritarian nations are plagued by higher tendency of siphoning money off, stolen through various trades and criminal activities or from the exchequer. Recipient countries are the ones which prove to have functioning electoral system.

So, will they refrain from promoting democratic values to semi-autocratic countries to see uninterrupted flow of illicit money, apart from brain drains from there?

Offenders and abettors of money laundering in the Third World, and authorities in the developed countries alike should be equally blamed for respectively seeking and offering a safe haven for the money owned actually by other people.

What are smuggled out of Bangladesh are fruits of bribe, extortion, commission, illicit drug trade, tax evasion, and distorted or fake overseas payment.

The inter-connected world has failed to fully expose such money and its possessors. If the governments of host nations and the countries of origin of that money one day issue sanctions on the individuals involved in this corrupt practice, their money earned through devious means may not be traced any more for recapturing in a new country.

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