Bangladesh is failing to block money laundering despite new laws brought in to tighten financial regulation, a new study suggests.
Bangladesh is battling corruption
Almost $6bn slipped through the net in the year to June 2003, more than half of it the proceeds of smuggling, according to the Bangladesh Economic Association.
More than 20% of the laundered funds were the proceeds of undocumented remittances from overseas, with the proceeds of bribery contributing about 7% of the total.
The survey also revealed that informal money transfer, or hundi, was responsible for the bulk of the funds Bangladeshis transfer overseas every year, whether for education, vacations or medical treatment.
The figures were unveiled on Thursday by BEA general secretary and Dhaka University professor Abul Barkat at a seminar on money laundering techniques.
While admitting that the headline figure of 342.15bn taka ($5.9bn; £3.5bn) was an estimate, Dr Barkat said the results of his survey showed that the legislation introduced in 2002 was failing.
The law doubled the sentence for money laundering to four years in jail, and provided for special courts to hear cases within a month of arrest.
Bangladesh's government has made a point of trying to strengthen its defences against both financial crime and corruption.
Earlier this year it announced plans to set up the country's first independent anti-corruption commission.
But for the past two years, Bangladesh has topped anti-graft group Transparency International's list of countries perceived as being the most corrupt.