The Bangladesh government has never asked for particular information or data of any Swiss bank account holders, says Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard.
"The Swiss government does not want any corruption or laundered money to be deposited in Swiss banks. Governments of the two countries can discuss the issues raised regarding Bangladeshis keeping money in Swiss banks," the ambassador said in response to a question from journalists during a discussion at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
The Diplomatic Correspondents Association Bangladesh (DCAB) organised the discussion and Nathalie Chuard was present as the chief guest.
The Swiss ambassador said according to the annual report published in June 2022 by the central bank of Switzerland, Swiss National Bank (SNB), Bangladeshis have deposited money equivalent to about Tk3,000 crore in various banks of Switzerland.
"We have informed the government of what to do to get information, but we have not been asked for any specific information," said Chuard.
"We are committed to maintaining international standards. Such information sharing is possible and must be done based on the consent of both parties. We are working with Bangladesh on this," she continued.
The Swiss National Bank provides the information about how much money Bangladeshis have deposited every year, but it is not possible for them to say whether the money has been earned illegally or not, said the Swiss ambassador.
She said their government is working continuously to correct all the errors of the Swiss bank. Swiss Bank works according to international procedures. There are no rules for keeping black money or corrupt money.
She also said, "The Swiss government does not encourage any illegal money. Swiss Bank is one of the leading banking systems in the world. One of the components of our GDP. That means it is very important for us."
Every year the Swiss Bank publishes a list of deposits parked by Bangladeshi individuals or enterprises. In the latest list, personal savings rates are decreasing.
Trade between the two countries has grown over the past decade and currently stands at around $1 billion. The Swiss ambassador said, "Many Swiss companies are present in Bangladesh and we are trying to increase bilateral trade relations."
Nathalie Chuard said they want to engage on the UN Security Council and are looking forward to working with Bangladesh to pursue their collective actions in favor of peace, international law, sustainable development and human rights in the multilateral fora.
"But let me be clear here. This will not be an easy task: taking into account the numerous global challenges which we are facing, cooperation is essential," she said, adding that Switzerland is a serious global player and a reliable partner of Bangladesh.
Ambassador Chuard said what her country is engaged in and contributes in Bangladesh is actually a reflection of what Switzerland stands for and promotes globally.
"This is part of our broader quest to make a better, more secure, prosperous and sustainable future for all," she said.
In June this year, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly elected Switzerland as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2023-2024.
The Swiss envoy said they will continue committed partnership with Bangladesh towards the next stage of its socio-economic development.
They will also work with drivers of change, such as women and youth and focus on strengthening civil society voices and participation to provide checks and balances, which are key for sustainability and inclusivity, he added.
"We are keen to reinforce our engagement with Bangladesh on SDGs since they remain our compass for the years to come. In that regard, one SDG that is particularly dear to our hearts is SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions - since it is so closely interlinked with other SDGs," she said.
Indeed, the envoy said, without peace, justice and inclusion, achieving goals such as ending poverty, ensuring education, promoting economic growth seem difficult or even impossible.
"Multilateralism matters, now more than ever, especially for countries like ours," she said.
DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.