Nation this week
Nearly 12,000 taxpayers have legalised Tk 200 billion (20,000 crore) through various means in 2020-21 fiscal. Seven thousand whitened approximately Tk 170 billion (17,000 crore) showing it as wealth in the form of cash while the remaining amount was whitened by purchasing land and flats and investing in the stock market, according to a periodical report of the National Board of Revenue (NBR). Theytook advantage of the provision to whiten cash, bank deposits and money invested in the share market and the savings certificates by paying 10 percent in taxes.
Besides, investments in land and apartments were allowed to be whitened by paying a fixed amount of taxes. This is the highest amount of money legalised in a single fiscal. As many as 32,558 taxpayers whitened more than Tk 35 billion (3,500 crore) during the caretaker government in 2007. A number of governments have allowed taxpayers to legalise their undisclosed money 15 times so far since 1975.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) asked banks to freeze all accounts of former Bangladesh Bank (BB) deputy governor SK Sur Chowdhury and his wife Suparna Sur Chowdhury for suspected tax evasion. Central Intelligence Cell of the revenue collecting authority in a letter directed all banks to freeze withdrawal or transfer of money from all accounts maintained by them. The NBR CIC gave the directive to the banks suspecting tax evasion by the couple. The CIC also asked banks to submit a compliance report, stating the latest balance of the accounts.
On 23 February, the NBR has asked banks for detailed information of all types of accounts and transactions of five people, including SK Sur Chowdhury, present executive director of Bangladesh Bank Md Shah Alam and their spouses. These moves came after a close associate of PK Hader, a fugitive accused of a money laundering case, confessed to a Dhaka court that two high-placed BB officials had assisted them in the financial scams.
Transactions through mobile financial services reached a fresh record of Tk 71,246.9 crore in May due to increased transactions for Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the biggest religious festivals of the Muslims, and restrictions on public movement amid the Covid outbreak. Bangladesh Bank data showed that the transaction volume in May is 12.3 percent or Tk 7,805.7 crore higher than the Tk 63,441.2 crore in transactions in April 2021. The transaction volume in April was the second highest in monthly transactions. The third highest transaction volume, Tk 63,000 crore, through MFS took place in July 2020 during Eid-ul-Azha.
The Eid festival played a key role in the surge of online transactions in the month of May, and definitely the movement restrictions for Covid also played a huge role. Apart from the Eid-centric transactions, the government's payments and private organisations' salary disbursement online also increased after the outbreak of coronavirus. Though the MFS of Nagad constitutes a notable portion of MFS transactions, the BB is yet to include the MFS operator's transaction data in its report.
The competition authority is carrying out two investigations against e-commerce company Evaly for alleged embezzlement of funds and breach of competition rules. The Commerce Ministry sent a letter to the Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) on July 4, asking it to open a probe into Evaly after the central bank found that the digital commerce platform was involved in misappropriating funds.
"We have already started working on the investigation upon request from the commerce ministry," said Md Mofizul Islam, chairperson of the commission. The BCC has also been investigating Evaly in a suo moto case filed in February for selling goods through an unusual cash-back offer through an advertisement, that offers 60 percent and 40 percent cash-back, subject to next sales. In an interim verdict, the commission ordered to suspend all sales arrangements related to the conditional cash-back offers.
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