Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said he does not know the people who are involved in siphoning money abroad from Bangladesh.
He urged opposition lawmakers to provide a list of the culprits so that the government agencies concerned could look into the matter and take necessary steps accordingly.
The minister made the remarks before the parliament on Saturday, while several opposition leaders criticised the government for its failure to thwart money laundering.
The parliament in the session also passed the "Bankers' Book Evidence Bill 2021".
The finance minister said, "Many, at different times, have informed this parliament that huge amounts of money are being laundered out of the country. I have asked you all (opposition MPs) to provide me with a list."
"I am not involved in money laundering. I believe you (parliament members) aren't as well," the minister added.
"So how would I know who launders money?" he asked. "What you know, I know the same. So, let me know if you have any additional information."
The finance minister claimed that Bangladesh's economy is ahead of others in South East Asia as well as South Asia, and is expected to become 25th largest worldwide by 2035.
On non-performing loans, he said the percentage of the defaulted loan was the lowest now since independence, although the number of banks, customers and amount of savings increased substantially in the meantime.
Legal actions have been underway against all the financial irregularities, the minister informed, adding that some 2.43 lakh cases were on trial in courts.
Earlier in the day, several opposition MPs heavily criticised the government for "widespread corruption" citing money laundering and increased amount of defaulted loans.
"The government officially recognises Tk1 lakh crore non-performing loan. However, the actual amount is much higher, at least Tk4 lakh crore," BNP-backed lawmaker Rumeen Farhana said.
On money laundering, the opposition parliamentarian said, "Foreign minister once informed us he has a list, government officials mostly have been siphoning money abroad."
She urged the finance minister to identify them in the light of the Global Financial Integrity's report on money laundering from Bangladesh.
Another opposition MP Harunur Rashid said hundreds of e-commerce firms had looted money from people in the name of e-commerce business. "Who will take responsibility for the general people's money?" he asked.
Jatiya Party lawmaker Syed Mujibul Haque Chunnu urged the government to form a commission to identify those who are laundering money to different countries including Canada.
BNP lawmaker Mosharraf Hossain said the government was only proactive against the small-scale loan defaulters, leaving the big fish out of the net.
Bankers' Book Evidence Bill 2021 passed
The House on the day passed the Bankers' Book Evidence Bill 2021 to recognise digitally recorded documents in online or digital transactions, as official evidence.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed the bill and it was passed immediately by voice vote.
"ICT-based banking is now a must to cope with in the age of globalisation. The transaction data is already being preserved as soft copies. We brought the bill to make an overhaul of the old act of 1891," Kamal said.
The proposed law is going to replace the old 'Bankers' Book Evidence Act 1891' as many things in the existing edition are not consistent with the present-day situation. Besides, the banks are now working digitally which was not mentioned in the previous edition.
According to the passed bill, banks' laser books, cash books, loan deposit books will be included as evidence.
The act also kept a provision of highest 3 years jail and Tk10 lakh penalty for the bank officials concerned, in case of making customers' account information public.
It, however, said such an offence can be settled alternatively on permission of the court.