The central bank has prepared the draft of a first-ever law designed to prevent production, supply and use of counterfeit currency.
The draft proposes the maximum life-time imprisonment for the offences.
The offences under the law will be 'cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable'. Cognizable offence means a police officer has the authority to arrest an offender without any warrant as well as to start investigation with or without the permission of court.
According to the draft law, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) and relevant law-enforcing agencies will be able to take actions against the counterfeit currency makers and suppliers.
The BB has completed drafting of the law, titled Counterfeit Currency Control and Prevention Act 2017. The law has been submitted to the Finance Division under the Ministry of Finance.
Officials said the draft has been sent to the Ministry of Law for its vetting.
Currently, there is no comprehensive law in the country to check production, supply and use of fake currency.
Some provisions of the proposed law supersede the provisions of Penal Code 1860 (Act XLV of 1860), Special Powers Act 1974 (Act XIV of 1974), and other relevant laws now in force.
The law has given a total of 16 definitions of counterfeit currencies, including tempered, punched, bleached and mismatched.
Currently, the BB takes punitive actions against the persons or organisations involved in counterfeit currency circulation under a number of laws including the criminal ones.
Syed Golam Shahajarul Alam, joint director of the BB Department of Currency Management and a member of the law drafting committee, told the FE that many of the accused persons are escaping due punishment in the absence of a specific law to deal with offences concerning counterfeit currency.
"The size of the country's economy is growing fast, which may pose the risk of spreading counterfeit currencies."
Currently, some 0.03 per cent of the currencies in circulation in the country is thought to be fake. However, the size might increase with the expansion of economy.
He also said under the law, use of image of any currency or its replica for various purposes will be a punishable offence.
Most of the countries have comprehensive laws for checking and preventing use of counterfeit currency, he added.
As per the draft law, there will be a Counterfeit Currency Control and Prevention Cell along with national and district-level committees to check and monitor the illegal practice.
The cell will include representatives from the BB, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Bangladesh Police, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the National Security Intelligence (NSI), the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB). They will recommend the international best practices for controlling and preventing the use of counterfeit currencies.
Besides, a database will be created on categories of persons, ingredients and machinery used for making or circulating counterfeit currencies.
The draft law has given certification authority to the designated currency examiners of the BB or the Bangladesh Police.
There will be opportunities for self-defence for aggrieved persons or organisations. They will be able to opt for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to defend themselves.
An accused person, according to the draft law, with less than 10 pieces of fake currencies in his/her possession will be able to resolve the issue through ADR. Local lawmaker, a first-class gazetted officer, the BB currency officer, or branch manager of any state-owned bank will perform the role of mediator.
The law also empowers the BB governor to issue relevant instructions regarding 'do's and don'ts' for controlling and preventing counterfeit currency.
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