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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Hundi traders become reckless ahead of Eid in Moulvibazar

  • Over 250,000 people from the district live in different countries
  • Over a hundred money exchanges in the city
  • Only one listed money exchange, rest are illegal
Update : 09 Apr 2024, 11:43 AM

As Eid approaches, hundi traders are increasing their efforts to capture a significant portion of expatriate income in Moulvibazar district. 

According to government data, more than 250,000 people from the district live in different countries around the world with their families. 

Some of them make frequent trips to Bangladesh during the two Eid festivals to earn some quick cash through hundi trade (an informal way of transferring money from one country to another). 

As a result, a large amount of money enters the country through this illegal channel.

There are over a hundred money exchanges in the city. However, Syed Money Exchange is the only listed money exchange in Moulvibazar; the rest are illegal. These illegal traders have become reckless in buying dollars and pounds from expatriates. Nine such traders were sued in a case under the Money Laundering Prevention Act in November last year. 

One of the accused in the case is Zamir Miah, a resident of Govinda Sri area of the city who has become active again in the illegal trade. He is getting support from some influential people in this regard, locals allege. Regarding the complaints, Zamir Mia said: “I live abroad, and I just came home. I am not involved in these businesses.”

“Once I had a shop in the market, but now there is no shop, and I am not involved in this business anymore,” he added.

There are allegations against Abdul Hannan, the proprietor of SA Travels, that he has been involved in hundi business in the name of running a money exchange. However, the local authorities are not very active in shutting down his shop. 

Several people have alleged that these illegal traders are even laundering these foreign currencies abroad.

Expatriates complained that they are being harassed when they go to any of these shops to exchange their currency notes. These shop owners and their staff pull them down from their vehicles in a bid to get their hands on the currency notes first. But there is no one to see them, they alleged.

They complain that the foreign exchange branch of Sonali Bank in the Beri Par area of Moulvibazar does not exchange dollars and pounds. This situation forces most people to visit these illegal shops.

Saik Enterprise, Sentu Enterprises, Hakeem Ahmed, Anwar Enterprise, Unique Tiles of Royal Mansion, and Shah Mostafa Telecom are among these reckless money exchange houses. 

Abdul Hannan, the proprietor of SA Travels, could not be reached over the phone for comments. 

Kazi Rakib Uddin Ahmad, assistant general manager of the Moulvibazar main branch of Sonali Bank, said the government is trying to prevent the activities of illegal money exchanges. In addition, the government is conducting various awareness campaigns to encourage people to transact money through legal channels.

Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Dr Urmi Binte Salam said: "The issue of unlicensed money exchange businesses in the district will be investigated, and the necessary legal measures will be taken."

According to the information provided by Bangladesh Bank, the authorities have requested that building owners refrain from renting their buildings to illegal traders. 

Moulvibazar Superintendent of Police Manjur Rahman said that the district police are aware of the situation and will take strict measures against these hundi traders if the parties concerned cooperate.

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