Swiss Ambassador Nathalie Chuard’s statement that Dhaka didn’t ask for information about Bangladesh money deposited in Swiss banks put the country in an embarrassing situation, said the High Court on Sunday.
A High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat made the observation after back-to-back statements by the Bangladesh Bank and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen that Bangladesh didn’t get any information from the Swiss authorities despite repeated requests.
The HC bench then directed the State and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to submit their statements as affidavits and fixed August 21 for issuing a ruling on the matter.
Senior Lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan stood for the ACC while Deputy Attorney General (DAG) AKM Amin Uddin Manik appeared for the State at the hearing.
ACC lawyer Khurshid told the Court that his client had requested the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) to collect financial information on some people from the Swiss authorities in three separate cases since 2014.
“On one instance, BFIU told the ACC that the Swiss authorities couldn’t provide any information about one person. In the two other cases, BFIU didn’t provide any data,” Khurshid told the court.
He added that the information BFIU received from Swiss Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) are confidential and can only be used as intelligence.
“This information can’t be used as evidence in court proceedings,” he said.
Separately, the deputy attorney general told the court that Swiss ambassador’s comment has created confusion.
“Swiss banks published their yearly reports on June 16. The Bangladesh government then requested the Swiss FIU to provide financial information on some people and banks through the Egmond Secure Web (ESW). The Swiss authorities are yet to comply,” DAG Amin said.
The State also informed the court that since becoming a member of ESW in 2013, Bangladesh has sought financial information on a total of 67 people and institutions from the Swiss FIU.
“Till now, the Swiss authority has provided information on only one person, which BFIU has forwarded to the ACC,” added Amin.
The HC bench issued an order on the matter on Thursday in which it asked the State and the ACC to take part in the hearing. Obeying the court’s order, the State and the ACC took part in the hearing on Sunday.