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Ministry warns of money laundering from overseas

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
KT/Fabien Mouret

The Interior Ministry’s central security department yesterday warned Cambodian citizens not to become middlemen for people seeking to use their ATM cards or bank accounts to receive money from overseas.

In a statement obtained yesterday, the department urged people to be more cautious when handing over their ATM cards or bank account details to strangers wishing to receive money from overseas.

“Your bank account can be used to receive money from overseas, which could originate from funds from crimes such as fraud and extortion,” the statement said. “The perpetrators always ask you either directly or through a third party to lend them your ATM card to withdraw the overseas funds immediately. In return, they will provide a commission.”

The department warned bank account holders that they could become accessories’ to crime if the money comes from criminal activities.

“You will be involved in fraud or extortion by unintentionally committing money laundering. You will serve jail time,” the statement noted.

According to the department, about $10 million in dirty money was detected flowing through banks during the past six months.

In the statement, the department also urged people not to borrow money from unlicensed moneylenders and avoid falling prey to loan sharks operating illegally across the country.

“You may encounter high interest rates and be exposed to extortion and threats to deprive your of your properties when the repayment amount increases drastically,” it said. “You may fall into the debt trap of these groups after taking the first loan.”

The department alerted people not to provide personal information to strangers, offering to lend money, in order to avoid being cheated.

Him Yun, director of Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, yesterday said money laundering and loan shark operations are becoming complex issues for lawmakers to tackle. He said people could easily fall into traps if they are not well educated.

“It’s really important for the authorities to disseminate information about new forms of crimes and educate people not to fall prey to them,” he said. “Some people who desire to get rich quick without working hard could be sucked into carrying out such criminal activities or be cheated if they are not aware of the problem.”

Sok Cheng, a vendor in Phnom Penh’s Phsar Kandal market, yesterday said she was not aware of money laundering activities using ATM cards, but noted that a moneylender with an unclear background came to her house last week and promoted his loan service.

“At that time, I was surprised because I did not expect any moneylender to come to my house and ask me if I want to borrow money to expand my businesses,” she said. “He offered attractive terms for the loan and assured me that I did not have to provide any guarantee.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said government officials must cooperate with all national and international stakeholders in order to fight terrorism and money laundering in the Kingdom.

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