PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh/Asia News Network): Financial and private sector experts said that the removal of Cambodia from the “money laundering grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recently was an absolute necessity for Cambodia’s financial sector. They said it may bring added benefits with it as it could give more confidence to investors and thereby attract more foreign investment to Cambodia.
In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA Bank, said on March 5 that the removal from the FATF’s “grey list” reflected the government’s efforts towards that end to improve its ability to combat money laundering crimes in Cambodia.
“Leaving the grey list not only enhances Cambodia’s image on the international stage, but also attracts foreign investment and facilitates the trade of local and international investors in all sectors,” said Channy.
Kaing Tongngy, Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) spokesman, said that it was a good and important thing for Cambodia’s financial sector as it would provide more convenience for foreign investors who need to transfer money to Cambodia. If Cambodia had remained on the grey list, investors would face a more complex and challenging process to do so.
“As we already know, the policy of the [government] is open encouragement of foreign investment. Unfortunately, in 2019, Cambodia was placed on the grey list, which made foreign investors face some difficulties. However, from now on, foreign investment in Cambodia should improve,” he said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said the private sector was very pleased with the removal as businesses were concerned about this issue as well.
“Today, Cambodia is a major exporter, especially for agricultural products for processing, while imports are also high, so there are many settlement transactions between local and foreign investors in US dollars. It is also good news for investors and it will give them confidence and be more convenient to invest in Cambodia,” he said.
Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia and director of its China Studies Centre, said that when Cambodia was grey listed, it created reluctance for foreign investors to invest here because they feared trade restrictions and a difficult process of for financial transactions.
“I believe that Cambodia’s removal from the grey list will make it more attractive to foreign investors who wish to invest in Cambodia,” he said.
According to the economists and financial experts, when Cambodia was on the money laundering grey list, the international banks and foreign investors were reluctant to carry out financial transactions here or make investments in Cambodia due to concerns about problems and unforeseen risks.
During the meeting with the delegation of the US-Asean Business Council on Feb 28, Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who is chairman of the National Coordination Committee on Anti-Money Laundering, said that FATF’s decision in removing Cambodia from the grey list of money laundering countries was an achievement that would contribute in building investor confidence in the investment climate as well as business in Cambodia.
“We are very grateful to the FATF, including the United States, as a member of this organisation that gave its support to the Cambodian government’s years of efforts to remove Cambodia from the grey list,” he said.