Cambodia is committed to fighting money laundering and terrorism financing after the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force named the Kingdom among countries vulnerable to the flow of illegal money.
Speaking yesterday at the workshop on Asset Recovery Basic, Anti-corruption Unit chairman Om Yentieng said that the Kingdom was listed on the grey list because it lacked laws on seizure and management of proceeds from crimes.
He said that the United Nations sent its specialists and representatives from Swaziland and Thailand to evaluate the Kingdom from October 30 to November 1 over money laundering and asset recovery.
Mr Yentieng said that the evaluation showed that there are no clear procedures on the request to send assets related to crimes to foreign countries and a lack of understanding on asset recovery.
He noted that on March 13, the government ordered ministries and relevant institutions to work hard to implement the FATF’s action plans so that it is cleared of the grey list.
“Asset Recovery is an important, necessary and immediate work that requires ministries and relevant institutions to cooperate to implement it and Cambodia vows to fight money laundering and terrorism financing,” Mr Yentieng said.
“I notice that now Cambodia has two action plans to be implemented, including the one by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) and another in the national strategy to fight money laundering and terrorism financing between 2019 and 2023,” he said.
The ‘grey list’ released by the FATF last month included the Kingdom and 11 other countries, mostly from Africa, the Caribbean, Middle East, and South Asia.
To conduct the evaluation, representatives from the APG Secretariat and some member countries visited each country to meet with relevant government agencies and officials.
Experts at a recent anti-money laundering workshop attributed the rapid growth of the Kingdom’s casino and real estate sectors to money laundering. Most of the illegal money that flows into Cambodia is believed to have come from China.
Him Yun, director of the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, said that the flow of illegal money is a huge issue.
“I support the commitment by the ACU and the government’s relevant institutions to fight money laundering and terrorism financing because it is a problem. It will make investors not want to invest in Cambodia,” Mr Yun said.
In September, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said the National Police and investigators at relevant ministries can now get approval directly from court prosecutors to have the assets of criminal suspects frozen.
Previously, only police could make the request, and the process was so complicated that not many officers did so as their requests first had to go to the prosecutor and then the investigating judge before being approved.
The statement added that authorities can also freeze the assets of those suspected of human trafficking and terrorism financing.