Money laundering alleged during onion import

Senior Correspondent,


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The businesses have laundered money in the name of importing onions from Myanmar. Not only that they imported more onions through illegal channels during last three months than the legal channels. In a special investigation report of Customs Intelligence and Investigations directorate this information was surfaced.

The probe report was handed over to National Board of Revenue(NBR). It was told in the report that the importers laundered foreign currency through under invoicing showing purchase price less of the onion instead of purchasing it high price in the imported onions from Myanmar.

According to probe report in last November the price of per kilogram(kg) onion in Myanmar market was Taka 134/- while after import it was shown in Bangladesh as Taka 43 per kg. It means the import price was shown Taka 91/-less per kg. In last Sept. & October similarly the import price was shown less than the actual price in the Myanmar market.

In report it was firmly mentioned that the importers have laundered money through under invoicing. The importers purchasing the onion from Myanmar market at the cost of 1200 dollars per metric ton had shown 500 dollars meaning that they laundered 700 dollars per metric tons. The importers have laundered this money either through banking channel or through ‘hundi’. In this way the onion import from Myanmar has helped the dishonest traders to huge foreign currency. 

Recently the Customs Intelligence department during interrogation of 43 importers who had imported at least 1000 mts. of onion from Myanmar got this glaring picture of money laundering.

According to NBR sources, there is a demand of 24 lakhs mts. of onion annually in the country. Of it 23.30 lakh tons onion was produced in the current year. About 25 percent onion is damaged during preservation, transportation and marketing stages.  

As a result, to meet the demand there was a necessity of importing 3.64 lakh tons of onion. During the month of Sept., Oct. and November months 167 thousand 806 metric tons of onion were imported. 304 importers brought onions through 2409 consignments. But suddenly India stopped exports of onions causing crisis in the Bangladesh markets. 

NBR chairman Moshrraf Hossain Bhuiyan told when enquired about the probe report told that a report has been received by the NBR but yet to go through its contents. 

DG of Customs Intelligence & Investigation directorate Shahidul Islam did not agree to make comments on the matter.