The National Assembly yesterday passed a law to amend three articles in the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing law by a vote of 83 to six.
Speaking at the start of session, Chea Chanto, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, said the amendments would give the law more teeth by raising sentences and fines.
“This judicial tool will help defend against, control and prevent all operations and offences related to money-laundering activity and terrorism financing,” Chea Chanto stated.
Last year, Cambodia was ranked the third most-susceptible country (out of 144) to money-laundering by the Switzerland-based Basel Institute on Governance. Chief among its reasons was insufficient regulation and rampant corruption.
It was the latter issue that the opposition took aim at during yesterday’s debate. Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said that the biggest obstacles would not be tackled by such legislation.
“I would like to raise ... that in Cambodia there is presently about $1 billion in dirty money coming from corruption and illegal actions of powerful men and some dishonest companies,” he said. “We have the laws, but the measures taken to fight corruption are still weak, and this law might not really be effective.”
Sovann was shut down by first deputy president Nguon Nhel, who ruled his point off-topic.
“I would like to ask the public not to confuse what Excellency Yim Sovann raised, because it is the culture of the opposition party that opens its eyes and sees only darkness,” CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap added.