Dhaka: At least 25 Bangladeshi businessmen and companies have allegedly been involved in money laundering and accumulating their wealth abroad.
It has been known from the confidential documents leaked from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, one of the worlds most secretive law firms, exposing how the rich and powerful have hidden their money.
More than two dozens of Bangladeshi business people who have owned offshore companies, though there may be many more who have registered using a non-Bangladesh address or who set up offshore companies using different service agencies.
The Bangladeshi individuals and companies are: Awami League presidium member Kazi Zafrullah and his wife Nilufer Zafar. However, both of them denied the allegation.
Besides, Mercantile Corporation chairman Aziz Khan, his wife Anjuman Aziz Khan, daughter Ayesha Aziz Khan, brother Jafar Umeed Khan and nephew Faisal Karim Khan run six companies abroad. Other than Jafar Umeed Khan and Md Faisal Karim Khan, they registered their British Virgin Island companies through a Signaporean address. These companies are involved in money laundering.
Aziz Khan told a newspaper, "I am a permanent resident of Signapore. I have lived there for many years, and in exile in 2007 and 2008. During my stays I have conducted businesses. All my businesses are legitimate and within the law. The information in reference is inaccurate and misrepresents."
Other Bangladeshis who have been involved in money laundering by setting up companies abroad are Hasan Mahmud Raja, Khondker Mainul Ahsan Shamim, Ahmed Ismail Hossain and Akhter Mahmud of United Group of Companies; late Samson H. Chowdhury, founder of Square Group; former president of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) Dr AMM Khan, Momin Tea Ltd's director Azmat Moyeen, jute businessman Dilip Kumar Modi, Sea Pearl Lines' chairman Dr Syed Sirajul Huq, Bangla Trac Limited (BanglaCAT)'s [the largest provider of independent power generation solutions in Bangladesh and are also one of the largest Gas Engine dealers, and BanglaCAT is also the largest machine supplier to the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the Dhaka City Corporation] Md Aminul Haque, Nazim Asadul Haque (Managing Director & CEO) and Tarique E. Haque (Chairman & COO); Western Marine Shipyard Limited (known as the leading shipbuilder of Bangladesh)'s managing director Captain Sohail Hasan; Mascot Group (a conglomerate of garment and real estate industries) chairman F.M. Zubaidul Haque [in May 2007, along with his wife Salma, he became director/shareholder of the offshore company Spring Shore International, which ceased to exist sometime before 2010. Zubaidal said, "The information is not correct. I am not aware of that company]; Mahtabuddin Chowdhury, managing director of Shetu corporation, in August 2007, along with his wife Ummeh, became director/shareholder of Talavera Worldwide; Iftekharul Alam, Chairman and Managing Director of Spark Ltd and Omnichem Ltd and his daughter in law Fawzia Naaz, owner of Sitylink, in January 2008, using Signaporean addresses, became directors/ shareholders of Paume Technology Ltd; ASM Mohiuddin Ahmed, deputy managing director of Abdul Monem Ltd, in June 2008, along with his wife, Asma Monem, he became director/shareholder of the offshore company Magnificent Magnitude. Mohiuddin accepted that he had set up the company but said that 'that was a long time back. It was set up to undertake commodity trading. The company is no longer there. There was no money involvement. The company was not activated.
Sharif Zahir of the Ananta Group, in February 2009, became the director of the offshore company CPAT (Signapore) Private Ltd. He said that the company was not set up by him but by an international partner who intended to invest in Bangladesh, but who subsequently pulled out. "The company was closed down in 2011," he said.
Dictators and other heads of state have been accused of laundering money, avoiding sanctions and evading tax, according to the unprecedented cache of papers that show the inner workings of the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is based in Panama.
The documents, dubbed "The Panama Papers", reveal links to 72 current or former heads of state and accuse some of them of having vested interests in their own banks and looting their own countries.
The data shows links to families and associates of some of the most powerful people in the world, including the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi and the current president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.