DHAKA (Reuters) - An Asia-Pacific money laundering group has moved its meeting out of Bangladesh citing security concerns, officials said on Monday, 10 days after militants stormed a cafe in an upscale part of the capital and killed 20 people, mostly foreigners.
Some 350 foreign delegates had been expected in Dhaka to attend the July 24-28 annual meeting of The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering that seeks to pool efforts to fight illegal money transfers and terrorist financing.
The group said in a statement on its website that the meeting will now be held in September in the United States. The exact location will be decided later. It gave no reason.
But a senior official at Bangladesh’s central bank said the July 1-2 attack in which seven Japanese, nine Italians, an American and an Indian were among the victims, had led to the change of venue.
Several countries, including the United States, have issued warnings about traveling to Bangladesh or asked citizens to take extra care following the assault claimed by Islamic State.
Another conference on telecommunications, the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, scheduled for Sept. 29 in Dhaka, has also been moved and will be held either in Sri Lanka or Thailand, organizers said.
Around 450 foreign delegates had been due to attend.
Mohammad Aminul Hakim, one of the organizers, urged foreigners not to panic, amid concerns that the growing threat of militant violence in Bangladesh will hurt the economy, and in particular the vital $26 billion garment sector.
“The international community should keep faith in us. The government is taking security measures,” he said.
Bangladesh’s central bank is trying to recover $81 million that hackers stole from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February and transferred into accounts in the Philippines.
Officials at Bangladesh Bank and police investigating the biggest online theft in banking history had told Reuters earlier they hoped the money laundering conference would help coordinate efforts to recover the funds from the Philippines.
Aditional reporting by Krishna N.Das in New Delhi; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Mike Collett-White