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ome importers found the business of selling ATMs an unresolved mystery and therefore decided to call

it quits.

Some others are, however, making money through sale of the money-dispensing machines, a situation
that baffles tax authorities.

Customs officials say the number of ATMs at every other street corner across Bangladesh is way higher
than that imported through official channels.

Inquiries by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the Customs Department reveal that most of the
automated teller machines (ATMs) have been brought into the country through false declarations.

Investigators say that knocked-down ATMs are imported as computer accessories or through courier
services as samples to avoid paying customs duties.

“The import cost of a good quality Chinese ATM is at least Tk 800,000,” says a former importer, “but
banks are buying US-made NCR machines for an incredibly low price of Tk 600,000.”

One simple explanation is, the frustrated importer says, the stipulated 37 percent duty on such imports
is not being paid.

The FoB cost of an ATM made by the US-based NCR Corporation should have been around Tk 1 million.

Banks have bought ATMs for a price much lower than duty-paid cost; the magical price has been offered
by Information Technology Consultants Ltd (ITC) and Technomedia Ltd. These two companies, according
to evidence obtained by bdnews24.com, import these ATMs from China, Germany and the US.

The Customs Intelligence and Investigations Directorate is now on the hunt for details about ATMs used
by banks.
The Directorate has written to the chief executives of commercial banks earlier this month and given
them 10 days to provide specific details about the number of ATMs procured and when. The deadline is
Feb 26.

"We are also looking into whether ATM imports have been used to launder money," Customs
Intelligence chief Moinul Khan told bdnews24.com.

ITC and Technomedia have denied any irregularities and said that Customs officials should recheck their
records.

Meanwhile, the chief executives' body of the banks, the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, has said it
will take steps if any wrongdoing is detected.

It was Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) which introduced ATMs in Bangladesh. The first booth was set up
at Dhaka's Banani in 1993.

Twenty-three years on, the bank has 83 ATM booths, most of them in the capital as well as in
Narayanganj, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet and Bogra.

Today’s market leader is Dutch-Bangla Bank, which launched its ATMs almost a decade after SCB and
now boasts over 5,000 ATM booths across the country.

Eastern Bank Ltd (EBL) has more than 200.

Central bank records say 53 banks now have 7,000 ATMs.

"We have found that the number of ATMs being operated is way higher than the number of imports,"
said Khan, the director general of Customs Intelligence and Investigations Directorate (CIID).
Investigators have found that altogether 604 ATMs have been brought in through the Customs point in
Chittagong since October 2013.

All of them but one were imported by Information Technology Consultants Ltd. The other one was by a
company named 'Vortex'.

No records were found of imports by Technomedia Ltd between October 2013 and January 2016.

Imports before that through the Chittagong Customs were