Cambodia is finding it hard to shake off its reputation as a ‘haven’ for dirty money.
Despite the government’s best efforts, the Kingdom remains among the countries most vulnerable to the flow of illegal money, according to the latest report coming from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Paris-based FATF is a global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog. It was formed in 1989 as part of a G7 initiative against money laundering. In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing. The FATF has 41 member countries, including Cambodia.
The ‘grey list’ released by the FATF last week included the Kingdom and 11 other countries, mostly from Africa, the Caribbean, Middle East, and South Asia.
Also on the list are Bahamas, Botswana, Ghana, Iceland, Mongolia, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
To conduct the evaluation, representatives from the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) Secretariat and some member countries visited each country to meet with relevant government agencies and officials.
It is common knowledge that weak regulations and lax law enforcement have made Cambodia a favorite destination for ‘dirty money’.
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.
It is also not uncommon for the police to apprehend foreigners allegedly involved in money laundering at various ports of entry.