Bangladesh: Corruption became a big issue, Hasina government started trying to control damage

Pankaj Prasad
Sheikh Hasina Wazed
Sheikh Hasina Wazed

Bangladesh has recently been hit with a spate of allegations related to corruption and black money.

The Bangladesh government has empowered the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate all allegations of money laundering in business. It has been said by the government that after getting new powers, ACC will expose cases of fraud in the capital market, illegal sending of money abroad, money laundering during import-export and illegal financial practices like hundi. Will get Earlier, the ACC had jurisdiction over 27 types of offences. Now he has also got the right to investigate corruption and bribery of public servants.

Bangladesh has recently been hit with a spate of allegations related to corruption and black money. This has tarnished the image of the Awami League government headed by Sheikh Hasina Wazed. General elections are going to be held in Bangladesh after a few months. The latest move is understood to be an attempt by the government to improve its image.

The Sheikh Hasina government's record against corruption was recently criticized by Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization. Iftekharujamman, executive director of the Bangladesh branch of the organization, told the newspaper The Business Standard on Friday – “In our opinion, the ACC should have the right to investigate all kinds of crimes related to money laundering. When the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was enacted, the ACC had this right. But we do not know why this right was taken away from him later.

Other experts have said that if the ACC is to be truly effective in fighting corruption, it must provide skilled and trained staff capable of understanding the complexities of money laundering that occurs in the course of business. According to former ACC commissioner Naseeruddin, ACC still lacks skilled manpower. It does not have staff capable of investigating all cases of money laundering.

Naseeruddin said- 'Money laundering in the course of business is a very complex process, which requires expertise to investigate. Due to lack of such expertise, ACC had faced difficulties in conducting such investigations in the past also. ACC still does not have such competent staff.

Based on surveys conducted by international organizations such as Transparency International, Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Global Financial Intelligence, ACC officials have said that 80 per cent of money laundering in Bangladesh takes place under the guise of import-export. On the other hand, the ACC has been curtailed through several amendments in the law over the years, due to which it has been rendered incapable of investigating such cases at present.

Political observers say that Sheikh Hasina's government has taken the latest step to defend itself from such criticisms. On the other hand, the opposition continues to attack the government on the basis of old precedents. Observers have expressed the possibility that the issue of corruption will remain hot till the next general elections.