The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has begun ‘collecting information’ about Bangladeshi individuals and businesses named in leaked Panama Papers 15 months ago, still a year after the leaks had captured global headlines.
The anti-graft body is still collecting information about them, ACC officials say.
The Panama Papers that shook global financial system and even political leadership in many countries, came to the limelight again on Friday, when Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified the country’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif based on documents leaked in 2015.
A few of those documents, which came out later, in April 2016, contain names of 21 individuals, three businesses and 18 addresses from Bangladesh.
The USA-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) posted on its website the full documents about the names of Bangladeshi individuals and businesses.
Panama papers revealed that some people and businesses had siphoned off money from Bangladesh evading taxes.
Prothom Alo had published a report on May 11 last year, after investigating the names of individuals and businesses.
The ACC had then assured the stakeholders of investigations into the matter following demands for probe and trial after the leak of Panama Papers.
However, since then no progress in investigation has been reported.
On Friday, ACC chairman Iqbal Mahmood said to Prothom Alo, “We had sent MLAR (mutual legal assistance request) to 11 countries for information about 11 persons some of whom are dual citizens. They have sent some information but we have sought more.”
The leaked Panama Papers do not have details about the names of individuals and businesses and the amount of money they siphoned off.
Earlier in 2013, ICIJ published names of 29 Bangladeshi individuals and businesses, the act known as ‘Offshore Leaks’. Names of individuals and businesses of these two documents are mutually inclusive.
As high as 11.5 million leaked documents, known as Panama Papers, belonged to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They contain financial and attorney-client information of entities that were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.
When asked executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Iftekharuzzaman said, “In that sense, the pieces of information leaked in Panama Papers were not verifiable. But, Nawaz Sharif was compelled to resign [from the prime minister post]as the anti-graft bodies of Pakistan played their role.”
“There are chances to debate about the role of the Supreme Court of the country [Pakistan]. But, Nawaz’s resigning following the court’s disqualifying him from public office over Panama [Papers] scandal can be an example for South Asia,” he added.
Names of Bangladeshis in Panama Papers
The names of Bangladeshis published in the Panama Papers are – Kafil HS Muyeed, Pessina Stefano, Rudy Benjamin, Yusuf Raihan Reza, Ishraq Ahmed, Novera Chowdhury, Mohammed Farhad Gani, Mehboob Chowdhury, Bilkis Fatima Jesmin, Roger Barb, Abul Bashar, Zain Omar, Benzir Ahmed, Afzalur Rahman, Sudhir Mullick, Jiban Kumar Sarker, Nizam M Selim, Mohammad Moksedul Islam, Motazzaroul Islam and Selimuzzaman.
Another person has also been named as ‘The Bearer’ twice.
The names of the business entities are – Bangladesh Biman Inc, Islamic Solidarity Shipping Company Bangladesh Ltd and Bangladesh Textile Agencies Ltd.
The names of two other Bangladeshi businesses mentioned in the ‘Offshore Leaks’ of 2013 are – Bangladesh Holdings Private Ltd and Telecom Development Company Bangladesh Ltd.
According to law, no one can carry money abroad except a fixed amount for travelling and medical treatment. In cases of business purpose, one can have dealings with foreigners through banks by opening letter of credit (L/C).
Outside this, exporters can deposit 15 per cent of their proceeds in banks in foreign currency.