Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blitz to publish info on foreign bank accounts of Bangladeshi nationals

Weekly Blitz shall start publishing detail information on foreign bank accounts of Bangladeshi nationals. So far information on existence of more than 1 million foreign bank accounts of Bangladeshi nationals have been detected in a number of foreign banks in Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates. According to initial information, almost 18 per cent of the total numbers of hidden foreign bank accounts are of Bangladeshi politicians, while at least two thousand accounts of Bangladeshi artistes are also detected. Bangladeshi politicians have a total amount exceeding US$ 200 million in such hidden accounts. 

In a January 9, 2009 press release, the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] said, it filed a forfeiture action against accounts in Singapore worth nearly US$3 million.

The agency alleges these funds resulted from a far-reaching conspiracy to bribe Bangladeshi public officials and their family members in exchange for favorable treatment in awards to work on public works projects. The complaint refers to alleged bribes given to Arafat Rahman. He's the son of the former prime minister of Bangladesh. The bribes were purportedly given in connection with government-granted projects awarded to Siemens AG and China Harbor Engineering Company. The complaint says most of the funds in Rahman's account can be traced to bribes received for the China Harbor project. That project built a new containment terminal in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Siemens Aktiengesellschaft [Siemens AG] and three of its subsidiaries were charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [FCPA]. They pleaded guilty on December 15, 2008. Siemens Bangladesh pleaded guilty to paying bribes of at least US$5.3 million from May 2001 to August 2006. It made these illegal payments through so-called business consultants to a variety of Bangladeshi officials. In exchange, the company received favorable treatment when bidding on a mobile telephone project. The complaint stated that the bribes from both Siemens AG and China Harbor qualified for prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because the payments were made in U.S. dollars and flowed through US banks before arriving in Rahman's Singapore account.

Arafat Rahman Koko is now in Malaysia, where a large number of Bangladeshi corrupt politicians as well as dubious businessmen have invested millions of dollars in various business ventures as well holding accounts with various local banks. One of the former ministers in BNP led coalition government, Shahjahan Siraj, through his son, Opu Siraj has bought property worth US$ 8 million in Malaysia, while Shahjahan Siraj and members of his family have deposited significant amount of money with Malaysian banks. Another influential figure of Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP], Harris Chowdhury has substantial properties as well as cash deposits in Malaysia. A fraudulent multilevel marketing company in Bangladesh also has invested huge amount of money in properties and businesses in Malaysia through a number of 'directors' of this company. Similarly illegal wealth of Bangladeshi politicians have been detected in United Kingdom, United States and United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, whistleblower Wikileaks is also going to publish information on accounts held by Indian nationals with banks in Switzerland. This was disclosed by the founder of this organization, Julian Assange, who now is under house arrest in United Kingdom.