Jump in machinery imports raises money laundering suspicion  

The imports of capital and other industrial machinery increased by 21 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year compared with that in the same period of the FY2013-14 raising a suspicion of money laundering.

According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, the import of capital machinery and machinery for miscellaneous industries increased to $1.65 billion in July-September of the FY15 from $1.37 billion in the same period of the FY14.

money_scamThe year-on-year growth in imports of industrial machinery was around 15 per cent in Q1 of FY14, reports New Age.

Former interim government adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam told New Age on Monday that there was no sufficient reason for the rise in the machinery import in the first three months of the FY15 due to a dull business situation amid political uncertainty.

But, the huge import payments for industrial machinery raised a suspicion that money might have been laundered abroad, he said.

He feared that some businesspeople were laundering money through over-invoicing in their invoice paper of the letters of credit.

Dhaka University economics professor MA Taslim told New Age that an increased import of capital machinery was a good sign for the economy if the businesspeople really imported the products.

But, the higher import figure of capital machinery will put an adverse impact on the economy if the businesspeople laundered money abroad through over-invoicing, he said.

The BB data showed that overall settlement of letters of credit, or generally known as actual imports, stood at $9.79 billion in July-September of the FY15 against that of $8.83 billion in the same period of the FY14.

LC opening, or generally known as import orders, in July-September of the FY15 also posted a growth of 12.81 per cent compared with that of a 9.79-per cent growth in the same period of the FY14.

LCs worth $10.83 billion were opened in July-September of the FY15 against LCs worth $9.60 billion opened in the same period of the FY14.

The BB data showed that the import of industrial raw materials increased by 2.20 per cent to $3.74 billion in July-September of the FY15 from $3.66 billion in the same period of the FY14.

The import of rice registered a 76.89-per cent growth in the first three months of the FY15 compared with that of the same period of the FY14.

Settlement of LCs in the first three months of the current financial year for rice was worth $90.07 million against $50.92 million during the same period of the FY14.

A BB official said that the recent fall in rice prices on the global market was one of the key reasons for the jump in the country’s import of the commodity in the period.

The rise in the rice prices on the local market also encouraged the importers, he said.

The BB data showed that the imports of onion and spices had significantly increased in the first three months on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha, which were celebrated in the period.

The imports of onion and spices increased by 28.21 per cent and 17.08 per cent to $47.72 million and $35.06 million respectively in July-September of the FY15 from $37.22 million and $29.95 million in the same period of the FY14, the BB data showed.

The import of petroleum products also registered a 53.02-per cent growth in July-September of the FY15 compared with that of the same period of the FY14.

Settlement of LCs in the first three months of the current financial year for petroleum products was worth $1.25 billion against $821.81 million during the same period of the FY14.


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