March 28, 2015 / 1:48 PM / 2 years ago

Bangladesh central bank governor says banks to be investigated for militant financing

DHAKA (Reuters) - The Bangladesh central bank governor said on Saturday all commercial banks would be investigated for links to Islamist militants and warned lenders would be shut down if found to be involved in funding such organizations.

Bangladesh Bank's Atiur Rahman said the emergence of Islamic State (IS), the militant group active in Iraq and Syria that has spread to other countries in the region, had also increased the threat of violence and militancy in Bangladesh.

"I have asked the intelligence unit of the Bangladesh Bank, the central bank to investigate thorough all banks to find any link with the financing in terror activities and militancy," Atiur told Reuters.

Islamic State has already made its mark in Bangladesh. Last week, police arrested a regional commander of banned Islamist outfit Jama'tul Mujahideen Bangladesh. According to police, the group's aim was to establish an Islamic state, helped by IS.

In January, police arrested four suspected members of Islamic State in the capital Dhaka, including a regional coordinator for the militant group who told police they had been trained in Pakistan. [ID:nL4N0UY39K]

Atiur spoke with Reuters after meeting the chief anti-money laundering officials of all commercial banks.

"I asked them to collect detailed information on customers and to monitor their transactions very closely," he said.

"If any bank is found to be linked with such activities then drastic action will be taken," Atiur said, adding that it would be shut down in addition to any fines or prison sentences being handed down.

Special forces have carried out two raids in the southeastern Chittagong district on secret hideouts of Islamist militants planning to carry out attacks in the country. They made several arrests and discovered explosives and bomb-making material.[ID:L4N0W20ID]

Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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