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2019-07-08 15:33:55 BdST

BB's stolen reserve: APG pledges to put pressure on Manila to refund money

The Asia Pacific Group (APG) on money laundering has assured Bangladesh of ratcheting up pressure on the Philippines to return the heisted reserve money, officials said.

The Group said had the Philippines complied with the laws and rules relating to anti-money laundering properly, the money would not have flown out from the banking system into the archipelago nation.

The assurance came on Sunday at a meeting of APG's Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) Mission with Bangladesh's National Coordination Committee (NCC) on prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the capital.

Cyber-criminals took away US$101 million from Bangladesh Bank's account with the New York Fed in February 2016. Three years after the heist, the central bank filed a case with the US District Court in January against a Filipino bank to recover the money.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, the Head of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan said the APG would explore ways of how it can help recover the heisted money.

"While discussing the stolen asset recovery issue, the APG officials have said if scopes are there, they will consult with the Philippines on the matter," Mr Hassan said 

He said the APG's criteria are equal for all. "If a country has loopholes they will be identified while reviewing their attainments."

Replying to a query, he said Bangladesh is a compliant country on the APG criteria.

"The APG had some suggestions. We prepared an action plan on those and today we've discussed the implementation progress," Mr Hassan said.

In the meeting, according to a press statement, law minister Anisul Huq said the government and relevant agencies are working on the action plan and since then the NCC has established effective monitoring mechanism of the plan.

He indicated continuous effort to improve in the area of domestic and international cooperation and focused on the challenges in implementing some recommended actions like independent prosecution services.

However, the minister committed building a robust Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime in Bangladesh.

While talking about Bangladesh's action plan, director of Mutual Evaluation of APG David Shannon praised the high-level commitment of NCC and expressed his satisfaction over the progress made so far.

He said Bangladesh is a leader in the region in terms of AML/CFT issues.

He lauded the significant contribution of Bangladesh to the international arena, especially in complying with APG, FATF and Egmont Groups initiatives in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Mr Shannon offered some technical assistance in establishing the asset management mechanism in Bangladesh.

Chairman of Anti Corruption Commission Iqbal Mahmood, governor of Bangladesh Bank Fazle Kabir, and senior secretary of financial institutions division Asadul Islam, among others, attended the meeting.

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