Monday, November 20, 2017

Causes, consequences and remedies against money laundering

by Ikhtiar Mohammad 

A report by the central bank of Switzerland claims that the total deposit by Bangladeshi citizens in various Swiss banks totalled Tk 5,566 crore in 2016, which was Tk 4,417 in 2015, a 19 per cent increase in deposits over one year. There are speculations that foreign deposits usually increase prior to national elections out of fear and concern.
Every year on an average Bangladeshis are laundering around USD 6.5 billion out of their country.
In between 2005-2014, Bangladesh lost USD 75 billion due to trade misinvoicing and other unrecorded outflows.
According to a UN report in 2010, annually, more than 30 per cent of Bangladesh’s GDP go out of the country.
Bangladesh is now the third largest source of foreign remittance for India. Thousands of Indian executives work in Bangladesh — most of them illegally — and remit billions of dollars to India. It is interesting, neither the government nor the intelligentsia in Bangladesh seem worried about it, at all.
Ironically, someone has commented in social media that plundered money is now the second most important export item — after readymade garments — from Bangladesh. Unfortunately, it happens to be true.
In simple words, money laundering contains all activities to make the illegally earned money legal through legitimate banking channel or business transactions. It involves transfer of money taking a long path to make it legitimate in the legal source so that the origin of this money is laundered or remain concealed.
Dynamic and ever evolving, the process of money laundering is accomplished into three stages: placement, layering and integration. Placement is the first stage of the process which brings the illegal earnings into the financial system. In the second stage, known as layering, the money is moved or transferred into the financial system through multiple transactions so that its authentic origin can be hidden. The last stage is integration though which the illegal money appears legitimate in the financial system.
The fundamental cause of money laundering in any country is the evasion of tax. Same holds true for Bangladesh as well. As the source of earning this money is illegal, for example, drugs dealing, human trafficking, smuggling, bribery, gambling etc., the earner always tries to make the source remain covered with the flavour of legitimate business. Hence, to protect the illegally earned money from confiscation is another reason for money laundering.
In Bangladesh, the prime cause of money laundering is lack of political transparency and good governance which has created and encouraged corruption in all sectors of the society. The second reason is huge informal employment and unimaginably high informal transaction in the economy that left lots of undefined sources. Lastly, political instability or pseudo stability is a major concern for the riches that somehow compel them to look for external destination.
The implications of money laundering for a developing country such as Bangladesh are colossal. Money laundering diminishes government tax revenue. It leads to misallocation of resources and transfers economic power from the market, government, and citizens to criminals. It has severe social and political costs as laundered money may be used to corrupt national institutions. Reputation and trust of the financial institutions are being tarnished by involvement with money laundering.
The major consequence is extra burden on the middle class and honest formal sector tax payers whose tax burden is swelling rapidly. The vacuum of private sector investment is another major outcome of money laundering in Bangladesh.
Money laundering causes hike in price level, which triggers inflation. Gini coefficient, represents the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents, and is the most commonly used measure of inequality, will go higher if small part of the society holds significant portion of money of the economy.
If money is remitted to foreign country, then definitely a blow is delivered to the national reserve. Money laundering accelerates crime and illegal activity. When cost of committing crime decreases then the quantity of crime increases and vice versa, and equilibrium is created in the market when the marginal revenue (crime opportunity) and marginal cost (cost of committing crimes) equate.
Therefore, no overnight solution exists for money laundering. The definition of money laundering should scrutinise the informal transactions carefully and bring all of them under tax bracket so that the earners impel to abide by law. Good governance in the tax administration is also a prime factor to stop money laundering.
Specifically, some measures should be applied to control this crime. The government should make a strong string of financial intelligence wing in the financial sectors. The policing to unearth the crime should be intensified so that the origin of crime is contained. The government, therefore, should give some exemplary punishments to those once identified with money laundering and scrutinise the life style of suspected people. In different wings of National Board of Revenue — income tax, customs etc — experts having specialised knowledge of business, criminology and law should be appointed. In Criminal Investigation Department, Anti-Corruption Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General office, the personnel appointed should have specialised knowledge in forensic accounting, at least they should have business educational background. Furthermore, the customs authority need to be vigilant and monitor that both import and export shipments are sticking to the quantities mentioned in their Letter of Credits and both parties concerned paying the right amount of duties and taxes to the government. In addition, the banks need to check that the prices quoted by importers for their goods in their LCs are in line with the international prices.
Bangladesh government should be wary of the unusual amount of money transactions in the banking system. Furthermore, government should motivate such money to be invested into infrastructural projects or to any project which will focus on rural development. This will help to utilise such money for reinvesting into the economy and therefore benefiting mass people. For instance, tax waiver advantage can be offered if anyone buys the share of any rural development project.
However, no matter what strategies are being formulated and action plans are devised, the only key to curb money laundering throughout the world is ensuring transparency and accountability leading to uprooting corruption, which also includes misuse or abuse of power by people having authority — both in public and private domain.
Ikhtiar Mohammad is a development researcher at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division.

George Soros: Rebuttal of the October 9 National Consultation in Hungary:

Rebuttal of the October 9 National Consultation in Hungary:
November 20, 2017, www.GeorgeSoros.com

On October 9, 2017, the Hungarian government mailed a national consultation to all eight million eligible Hungarian voters purporting to solicit their opinions about a so-called “Soros Plan.” The statements in the national consultation contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about George Soros’s views on migrants and refugees. Hungarian government officials also falsely claim that George Soros is somehow controlling the European Union decision-making process. In fact, decisions on how to address the migration crisis are made by EU member states and institutions, including the Hungarian government.

With Hungary’s health care and education systems in distress and corruption rife, the current government has sought to create an outside enemy to distract citizens. The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s. The national consultation is part of an ongoing propaganda effort that has been underway since May 2015 that included the “Stop Brussels” consultation in the spring of 2017 and the referendum that vilified migrants and refugees in 2016.

George Soros started his giving in Hungary in the 1980s, establishing a foundation there in 1984. Since then, his support for Hungarians has totaled roughly €350 million and has included scholarships, health care services, and humanitarian efforts, including €1 million for reconstruction after the red sludge disaster in 2010. He also funds current efforts to help educate children with learning disabilities, tackle homelessness, and bring public transportation to the Hungarian countryside.

As a concerned citizen, George Soros regularly publishes commentary in newspapers around the world expressing his views and proposing policy approaches on a variety of topics, including the migration crisis. These are all publicly available on his website: www.GeorgeSoros.com.

National Consultation Statement 1:
George Soros wants Brussels to resettle at least one million immigrants per year onto European Union territory, including in Hungary.

FALSE
In a 2015 opinion piece, George Soros said that because of the war in Syria, the European Union would have to “accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly” (“Rebuilding the Asylum System,” Project Syndicate, September 26, 2015). A year later, when circumstances had changed, he suggested that the EU should make a “commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 2:
Together with officials in Brussels, George Soros is planning to dismantle border fences in EU member states, including in Hungary, to open the borders for immigrants.

FALSE
George Soros has clearly stated his belief that “the EU must regain control of its borders.” He believes that “the EU must build common mechanisms for protecting borders, determining asylum claims, and relocating refugees.” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 3:
One part of the Soros Plan is to use Brussels to force the EU-wide distribution of immigrants that have accumulated in Western Europe, with special focus on Eastern European countries. Hungary must also take part in this.

FALSE
In his most recent commentary on the refugee crisis, George Soros endorsed “a voluntary matching mechanism for relocating refugees.” He made clear that “the EU cannot coerce member states to accept refugees they do not want, or refugees to go where they are not wanted.” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 4:
Based on the Soros Plan, Brussels should force all EU member states, including Hungary, to pay immigrants HUF 9 million (€28,000) in welfare.

FALSE
George Soros did not say that Hungary should be forced to pay HUF 9 million in welfare to immigrants. He did say, “Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide €15,000 per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs—and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states.” (“Rebuilding the Asylum System,” Project Syndicate, September 26, 2015). This would clearly be a subsidy from the EU to the Hungarian government. Last year George Soros announced that he would contribute to the financial effort by earmarking €430 million of his personal fortune “for investments that specifically address the needs of migrants, refugees and host communities.” (“Why I’m Investing $500 Million in Migrants,” The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 5:
Another goal of George Soros is to make sure that migrants receive milder criminal sentences for the crimes they commit.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

National Consultation Statement 6:
The goal of the Soros Plan is to push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background so that integration of illegal immigrants happens much more quickly.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

National Consultation Statement 7:
It is also part of the Soros Plan to initiate political attacks against those countries which oppose immigration, and to severely punish them.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

There is a Genocide Going on Right Now in Myanmar and We’re Ignoring It




We said never again. But it’s happening right now, and we are doing nothing to stop it.
Here’s what is going on with Rohingya in Myanmar and why we should be doing much more.
‘Never Again’ - This is what world leaders solemnly promised in the aftermath of World War II, and that promise was the start of the international human rights system. After the horrors of the Holocaust, the world united to agree on minimum standards of dignity – that is, human rights – for all human beings.
Human rights were given weight by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later made enforceable in Europe under the Human Rights Convention. But what is happening in Myanmar shows that the world’s promise of “never again” does not always apply. We really need to talk about what’s going on, but more crucially, what are we doing to about it.
How Did We Get Here? The Story of the Rohingya in Myanmar
The Rohingya crisis didn’t happen overnight. As always, there were many warning signs. Institutionalised discrimination has been going on for decades, stemming from long-simmering ethnic and religious frictions which were rooted in colonial rule. This has also been exacerbated by the military’s xenophobic nation-building agenda.

Rohingya Muslims have existed in the country for centuries. Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has always been mostly Buddhist, but under British colonial rule in the 182os migrant labour was encouraged to expand rice cultivation. Many Muslim workers from neighbouring Bengal came to the country and the Rohingya community (which has been present since the 12th century) expanded rapidly – tripling between the 1870s and 1910s.
 
Broken Promises and Rebellions


British rulers promised the Rohingya separate land in exchange for support, hence why they sided with them during WWII. After the war though, when Myanmar gained independence from British rule, the Rohingya were denied the promised autonomous state and, at the same time, they were excluded from Myanmar’s population. In 1950, a Rohingya rebellion broke out and was eventually crushed by the army, who called and treated them as terrorists.

After the 1926 military coup, the situation further deteriorated in the 60 years of military rule. In 1978, a heavy-handed government campaign for citizens’ registration pushed more than 200,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. In 1982, a new citizenship law branded Rohingyas as illegal immigrants, effectively making them stateless and depriving them of their most fundamental rights. At the beginning of the 1990s, 200,000 Rohingyas flew to Bangladesh to escape forced labour, violence and persecution at the hands of the army.
 
A Transition to Democracy Gone Wrong
A democratic transition has been ongoing since December 2010, when opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. But things for the Rohingya did not improve, at all. Some even said the democratic transition actually inflamed things. Rohingyas were not included in the census nor allowed to participate in the first democratic elections.
A text book example of ethnic cleansing -
Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN
 


Violence has been greatly escalating in the past two years. Violent attacks in  October 2016 and August 2017 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army sparked an intense crackdown by the Myanmar military. Massive “clearance operations” have been going on ever since, with Rohingya villages being burned to the ground and survivors telling brutal stories of murder, rape and torture.

Since August 2017 alone more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled. Embarking on a long and dangerous journey to neighbouring Bangladesh, they have joined hundreds of thousands who fled in earlier waves of ethnic violence.
The Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh is now topping more than 1 million. However, to make matters worse, the country has repeatedly pushed back refugees and is now even talking about offering sterilisation in refugees camps.
Why Aren’t we Calling it Genocide?
The Rohingyas have been commonly dubbed “the world’s most persecuted minority” for a while. According to the United Nations human rights’ chief, what’s going on in Myanmar is “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.  
 





The situation in Bosnia and in Rwanda (that is, years of concerted dehumanisation campaigns building up to mass murders) –  arguably meets the criteria for being described as a genocide under international law. Many have drawn parallels to Myanmar.
Calls from academics to label the atrocities against Rohingyas as genocide are on the rise. In fact, the Yale Law School’s human rights clinic released a report suggesting the persecution of the Rohingya fit the legal definition of genocide before the last two cycles of violence in Myanmar.
A genocide is taking place, but there is taking place, but there is little chance the international community will effectively mobilise to stop it
David Simon. Yale University
That notwithstanding, though, world leaders appear very reluctant to use the word “genocide”. The hang-up is a clause in the UN Genocide Convention that requires them to “prevent and punish” it, something the international community is neither willing nor able to do.
David Simon, Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, added: “A genocide is taking place, but there is little chance that the international community will mobilize effectively to stop it. Questions of national sovereignty and self-interest have almost always trumped international concerns about human rights.”
A Human Rights Symbol Ignores a Genocide?
The inertia of international community also somewhat depends on its leader Aung San Suu Kyi being one of the most celebrated human rights icons of our age.
The Nobel peace laureate has completely failed to call out on the atrocities being committed against the Rohingyas, in what has been called “the clearest act of complicity”. Suu Kyi’s transformation into “genocide apologist” has prompted requests to take away her Nobel prize as well as other honours bestowed to her on grounds of her human rights activists.
The inability of the international community to take any action despite being faced with the most atrocious human rights violations shows a dismaying measure of the state of art of human rights. And this should motivate all of us to keep pushing – harder and stronger – to see the Rohingya genocide acknowledged and accounted for. We said “never again.” Now it is time to show we really meant it.
 

 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

White Supremacist Hate Crimes surge in LA

White supremacist hate crimes in and around Los Angeles soared last year, according to a new report, mirroring a national increase in crime linked to animus against specific groups.
Most of those crimes were acts of vandalism that included swastikas or other hate symbols. Hate crimes grew by 11% in 2016 from 2015 in California.
To read the news, click here.

A History of Idiocy by Uri Avnery

Please, click here to read the article.

Two more Rohingyas lynched to death by Rakhine Buddhists

I just returned from my speaking engagement in NYC where the Rohingya crisis was discussed. And now I heard that another two Rohingyas have been lynched to death by Rakhine Buddhist extremists. Will such killing spree ever end? Do all the Rohingyas have to flee to Bangladesh to stop their extinction by Buddhist fascists of Myanmar, esp. the Rakhine state?
The report is shared from the Arakan Times.
=========
Two Rohingya were killed and the other 2 seriously injured from Nget Chaung refugee camp in Pauktaw Township by Rakhine extremists on 19 November.
 
According to our correspondent report, two Rakhine men from nearby Rakhine village went to the refugee camp and called the four Rohingyas to their village to work as day laborers. They were taken by the two Rakhines saying that no harm would be on them and they would be responsible if anything happen on them.
 
However, the four Rohingyas were assaulted by Rakhine extremists inhumanely while they were working in the work site where 2 were spot dead and the other 2 were critically injured. The two injured victims somehow managed to flee to their camps.
 
The deceased were identified as Mohamed Osman (41) son of U Nur Ahamed and Amir Hussain (30) son of U Du Du Miah of Nget Chaung refugee camp, Pauktaw.
 
No further details are avaiable to Arakan Times.

Saturday, November 18, 2017