Cambodia in global watchlist for money laundering

JAKARTA: A global money-laundering watchdog placed Cambodia on its watchlist because of concern the country, which has never prosecuted a money-laundering case, is vulnerable to the concealment of illegally acquired money.

Cambodia inclusion on a “grey list” drawn up by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) could curtail international financial, investment and trade flows to and from the South-East Asian country.

The FATF is an inter-governmental organisation that underpins the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

A spokesman for Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance said yesterday he could not comment on the FATF issue and referred questions to the National Bank of Cambodia, which did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

FATF president Marshall Billingslea said Cambodia had“significant deficiencies”.

“It really runs the gamut,” he told reporters, though added that Cambodia had made a “high-level political commitment” to address the problem.

The FATF listing comes as Cambodia faces the loss of preferential trade treatment from the European Union due to concerns over its human rights record.

Cambodia’s inclusion on the list follows an FATF ”mutual evaluation report” on its policies to counter money laundering (ML) and terrorism financing (TF) conducted in 2017.

The report contained several damning findings and observations, including that no money-laundering case had ever been prosecuted in Cambodia.

Cambodia’s judicial system had “high levels of corruption”, the FATF said in the report, adding:“Cambodia has made minimal use of financial intelligence in investigating ML/TF.”

The Cambodian Financial Intelligence Unit did not supervise its booming casino and real estate sectors, long identified by organisations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as highly exposed to money laundering by organised crime groups.

Cambodia had been removed from the FATF ”grey list” in 2015.

A more restricted financial environment comes as Cambodia is also facing the prospect of tougher trade conditions. — Reuters

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