Organised crime and money laundering are no doubt a serious threat to the rule of law and sustainable development of the country, a Dhaka court observed on Monday.
Judge Md Iqbal Hossain of Dhaka Metropolitan Special Judges' Court-5 made the observations while pronouncing the verdict in a money laundering case related to the country's first casino scam.
Judge Iqbal Hossain sentenced 11 people, including Enamul Haque Enu, expelled vice-president of Awami League's Gandaria unit, and his brother Rupon Bhuiyan, joint general secretary of the same unit, to seven years in prison each.
The court also fined them Tk4 crore each for their involvement in illegal casino business.
Enu, Rupon and five others were present in the court during the verdict.
"Money laundering is a serious offence. The recent growth of casino gambling, in essence, emerged as a backdoor for organised crime to launder their dirty money into the financial system," the court said at the time.
The court said: "Illegal gambling operations are especially serious, because the money earned from illegal gambling are being used to fund other activities including money laundering, extortion and fraud."
If the money laundering offences are unchecked, money laundering can destabilise the country's financial system and undermine the development efforts in emerging markets, the court observed.
It weakens the social fabric and collective ethical standards, the court said.
"Therefore, the state demands that an appropriate punishment can prevent the accused persons from committing the offence of money laundering," the judge said.
The other nine convicts are – Shahidul Haque Bhuiyan, Rashidul Haque Bhuiyan, Merajul Haque Bhuiyan, Joy Gopal Sarkar, Pavel Rahman, Tuhin Munshi, Abul Kalam Azad, Nabir Hossain Sikder and Saiful Islam.
Among the convicts, Shiplu, Rashidul, Shahidul and Pavel have been absconding while Tuhin is out on bail. The other six are in jail.
On 16 March, the court set 6 April to hand down the verdict in the case after closing arguments of the prosecution and defence. However, the date was later deferred.
Enu, Rupon and their associate Sunny were arrested from Dhaka's Keraniganj on 13 January, 2020. They were planning to flee to Nepal via India by using fake passports.
According to law enforcers, the brothers used to bring casino materials from Nepal and supplied those to buyers here across the country.
They owned a total of 22 buildings, plots and 128 flats in the capital and had huge sums of money in different bank accounts.
On 26 July 2020, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Police Inspector Sadek Ali, also the investigation officer (IO) of the case, submitted the chargesheet against the accused.
The court framed charges against them on 5 May 2021. A total of 10 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case, testified in court.
Several other cases were also filed against Enu and Rupon on charges of amassing illegal wealth and money laundering with different police stations in the capital.