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Gov't working group to tackle money laundering

The government is seeking to strengthen its ability to counter money laundering and terrorism funding through a new working group that combines representatives across several ministries and the private sector.

According to a statement released yesterday from the National Coordination Committee on Anti-Money-Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, the new working group will be set up in response to an upcoming audit from international watchdog Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, scheduled for next year.

“This shows the world that Cambodia is strong and is in cooperation with anti-money-laundering and financial terrorism,” Keat Chhun, deputy prime minister and chair of the committee, was quoted as saying in the statement.

The working group will gather information and legal documentation in order to cooperate with auditors from the Asia/Pacific Group, the statement said.

The Asia/Pacific Group is an international, autonomous organisation that works with its 41 members to implement and enforce internationally accepted standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Cambodia was made a member of the group in 2004, after which the Kingdom established the Financial Intelligence Unit under the National Bank of Cambodia.

The official statement did not reveal a start date or mandate for the new working group, but the APG assessment is due at the end of 2016.

Cambodia is rated the sixth most vulnerable amongst 152 countries associated with money laundering, according to the 2015 Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index.

So Phonnary, executive vice president and group chief operations officer at Acleda Bank, said she welcomes the initiative.

“Anti-money-laundering and financial terrorism is a very important task to tackle,” she said.

“Such a problem impacts the economy and if we combat it, our country will be strong, disciplined and secured.”

Phonnary added that at Acleda Bank, there were stringent processes in place to combat money laundering, including regular checks of any suspect transactions with both the US Embassy and the National Bank of Cambodia.

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