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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Money laundering, terror financing Finance asks : NBR to prepare for transnational evaluation

Doulot Akter Mala

The finance ministry has instructed the revenue board to form a panel comprising intelligence officials of its income tax, value-added tax (VAT) and customs wings to face mutual evaluation by the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) of the progress on combating money laundering.

There will be a primary contact point on the three-member committee that will furnish requisite information to the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) and coordinate things in relation to the APG mutual evaluation, says the directive.

Also, the committee will organise face-to-face meetings during the onsite visit by the APG team.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith recently sent a demy official (DO) letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) chairman, also secretary of the Internal Resources Division (IRD), with guidelines for the mutual-evaluation activities.

An APG assessment team comprising some seven to eight members from New Zealand, China, India, Indonesia and Brunei Dares Salam is scheduled to visit Bangladesh on October 11-23 as part of the mutual evaluation of actions against the monetary underworld.

During the fortnight-long stay, the team will verify authenticity of the furnished data in technical compliance response and effectiveness response. They also evaluate mutual cooperation, capacities, and working method of different ministries and departments.

The third round of mutual-evaluation process of APG is underway in Bangladesh. Bank and financial institution unit under the Ministry of Finance and BFIU of the central bank are coordinating the evaluation process.

The finance minister has found the necessity of including more information on assessment of effectiveness of response to check money laundering and terrorist financing, according to the DO letter.

He instructed the NBR with the guidelines to prepare the tax authority for the mutual-evaluation process run by the APG.

The minister has directed the NBR to assign the committee to seek necessary information on urgent basis from the counterpart in foreign countries to resolve the cases relating to the smuggling in drugs and gold, local and foreign currencies and trade-related money laundering.

The tax authority will exchange data and ensure access to the database with the BFIU on investigation into alleged acts of money laundering, smuggling and terror financing.

"Every customs station must have effective monitoring mechanism and trained officials to check terrorism, terror financing, and entry of illegal arms for implementation of the resolution of the United Nations (UN) Security Council," the letter reads.

The NBR and its relevant wings have to frame their respective strategies for thwarting money laundering and terrorist-financing offences in line with the national strategy papers for 2015-17, it added.    

For mutual evaluation, two reports on technical compliance response and effectiveness response on implementation result of relevant law, rules and methods were submitted by Bangladesh to the APG on April 12 and June 24, 2015 respectively.

Source:  The Financial Express, 31 August 2015

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