Trial courts in Bangladesh ordered the confiscation of assets worth Tk 30.03 million and slapped Tk 724.88 million in fines in corruption cases in 2020, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) data.
The data shows the volume of the assets confiscated and fines imposed for possessing ill-gotten wealth has witnessed a drastic fall in 2020 than that in 2018.
The ACC did not provide the data on confiscations and fines for the year 2019.
The amount of confiscated wealth stood at more than Tk 133.44 million and fines were over Tk 1,399.47 million in 2018, the ACC statistics revealed.
The courts ordered the confiscation of Tk 715.2 million worth of wealth and imposed fines of Tk 2,027.4 million in the past five years to 2017 in similar cases.
According to the data available with the anti-graft watchdog, the sequestrated assets include ill-gotten wealth, frozen property, cash and immovable objects.
The total value of the assets confiscated and the fines imposed was Tk 6.9 million in 2013 followed by Tk 12.6 million, Tk 44 million and Tk 526.1 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The amount fell to Tk 125.6 million in 2017.
The fines were recorded at Tk 470 million in 2013, but the volume rose to Tk 891.1 million in 2016 and again fell to Tk 437.1 million in 2017.
Public servants, bankers, politicians, elected representatives and professionals were among the accused.
According to the ACC Law-2004, misappropriated money will be confiscated in the interests of the state. Even the same amount must be paid in fines.
Talking to the FE, ACC senior prosecutor advocate Khurshid Alam Khan said although trial courts gave orders to confiscate wealth and imposed fines on the accused in cases, the ACC cannot realise them instantly.
In most cases, the offenders and convicts file appeals with the High Court against their verdicts, he added.
When a convict appeals to the higher court, it takes time to dispose of the case, Mr Khan mentioned.
The disposal of appeals should be faster to facilitate timely confiscation of wealth and realisation of fines, he said.
The ACC has been able to realise part of the assets and fines following an apex court order, which is encouraging for the ACC, he added.
When asked, Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the amount is much below than expected, especially when the volume of wealth amassed by the corrupt is staggeringly high.
More importantly, it is not known if and to what extent those charged are of the big fish category, which could give more credence to actions taken by the ACC, he told the FE.
Dr Zaman suggested that the commission provide disaggregated data to facilitate a more meaningful and comparative analysis.