Golam Mostafa Jibon: Despite the ban, the use of Cryptocurrency especially Bitcoin is still going on in the country causing expansion of criminal activities.
Experts said that, the rampant use of illicit virtual currency is helping to instigateseveral types of crimes including illegal arms and drug trade, money and human trafficking abroad, terrorist financing and online gambling.
Even though these crimes are committed especially through Bitcoin, the law enforcers are unable to bring those involved people under the law due to lack of sufficient logistic supports and necessary trainings.
In addition to instructions to bring Bitcoin users and traders under the law, it has been asked to provide training to law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and related ministries to obtain modern information and knowledge about virtual or Bitcoin technology.
In particular, the cyber unit of the police and members of the intelligence agencies are instructed to acquire technical skills through training, acquisition of modern equipment and software.
Earlier, a letter was sent to the police headquarters from the Political Division-2 of the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard on the base of report produced by an intelligence agency. In light of the letter signed by the then Additional Deputy Inspector General of Police Kazi Zia Uddin, instructions weregiven to various police units to take effective actions.
Those concerned said that, due to the incredible progress of science and technology, the introduction and use of paper currency as well as digital currency have started spread worldwide. Bitcoin is the world’s first digital or virtual currency. Since its launch in 2008, illegal use of this currency has started in Bangladesh.
Apart from buying and selling legal goods, Bitcoin is being used for buying and selling illegal goods and services including drugs, weapons, smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and militant financing. Its use has recently increased at an alarming rate in Bangladesh due to difficulty in identifying users and taking action against them.
In particular, Bitcoin is increasingly being used to finance drug, money laundering, online video game payments, online gambling, human trafficking and terrorist activities. It is mentioned in the report of the intelligence agency that, a huge amount of money is being siphoned abroad through this means.
In the past few years, various units of law enforcement agencies have arrested several Bitcoin users and traders. RAB has conducted several raids at different parts of the country and arrested a number of users and traders. But, most of the main culprits involved with the crimes have still remained out of reach.
Humayun Kabir, Special Superintendent of Police, Economic Crimes Department, CID, said, “Like other countries in the world, crimes are being committed through Bitcoin or digital currency in Bangladesh. There is no legal permission for digital currency in Bangladesh. We are sincerely monitoring this matter during the extreme crisis of dollar.”
This police officer said that, the possibility of money siphoning along with other crimes through Bitcoin is the highest. This is because, due to the high value and affordability of anonymity, illegal asset owners can easily use it to launder money. We are working keeping everything in mind.
According to the observation of the report of the intelligence agency, since Bitcoin transactions cannot be controlled and its users cannot be identified, its use in various criminal activities may increase in the future with the development of information and communication technology in the country.
Also, people involved in corruption can invest their wealth through Bitcoin. Militant organizations can also raise funds through Bitcoin to carry out their subversive activities. The report also expressed fear that, the sale of drugs and weapons may increase through Bitcoin in the future.
Seeking anonymity, an officer of the law enforcement agency said that, many freelancers in the country are paid for their work through Bitcoin. As bitcoins are illegal in the banking system, many peoplesiphon money abroad through various bitcoin traders.
The intelligence agency’s report also made several recommendations to prevent crimes committed through Bitcoin. Now, monitoring should be strengthened by increasing the technical capacity of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit-BFIU under Bangladesh Bank to prevent the use of Bitcoin. Cyber units of the police and members of intelligence agencies should take measures to acquire technical skills through training and acquisition of modern equipment and software. Existing laws of the country, such as the Foreign Exchange Control Act 1947, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2012, among others, can be updated by adding stricter provisions on Bitcoin prevention and punishment of the users.
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