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B'desh bank fined for links with terror group

Investigators found a series of suspicious transactions at a branch of Islami Bank Bangladesh, the country's biggest Islamic bank.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 14:46 IST

An Islamic bank believed to have been used by Muslim militants behind a deadly wave of bombings has been fined by the country's central bank, a senior officer said on Thursday.

Investigators uncovered a series of "suspicious transactions" at a branch of Islami Bank Bangladesh, the country's biggest Islamic bank, after the leader of the banned Jamayetul Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB) group was arrested last month.

An Islami Bank book was found at Shaikh Abdur Rahman's hideout in the northern city of Sylhet.

The group, blamed for blasts that have killed at least 28 people, wants strict Islamic law imposed in this Muslim country.

"The bank was fined for suspicius transactions, which violate the anti-money laundering act of the country," a senior officer of the bank said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Under the laws, the bank has to keep a record of customers and it has to report all transactions to the central bank but Islami Bank violated both norms, for which it was fined 100,000 taka (1,400 dollars)," he added.

The transactions "helped finance terrorists", the state-run BSS news agency said on Thursday.

Islami Bank denied any involvement in the funding of terrorist activities.

"We are not involved in any such activity. The Bangladesh Bank has found some irregularities in some transactions and they have taken action but this is in no way related to terror financing," bank spokesman Aatur Rahman said.

Rahman said five officials had been suspended while 15 more had been asked to explain their "negligence" in failing to observe the provisions of the anti-money laundering legislation.

Islami Bank is the country's biggest private sector lender with more than 150 branches nationwide. It has been following Sharia-based banking since its inception in 1982.

The Bangladesh government, a four-party Islamist-allied coalition, last year acknowledged it had been slow to respond to the threat posed by the militants but vowed to root them out.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 14:46 IST