Cambodia has been listed among the “most improved” nations in a newly released global index charting risk from money laundering, though it is still rated the sixth most vulnerable among 152 countries.
The 2015 Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index, published by Switzerland-based NGO the Basel Institute on Governance, saw Cambodia drop three places on the list, having come third behind Iran and Afghanistan in each of the three previous years the index was published.
It is now rated to be less vulnerable than Tajikistan, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.
According to the report, Cambodia’s improvement reflects recent evaluations and follow-up reports by inter-governmental anti-money laundering group the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In a report released in March, the FATF noted Cambodia’s “significant progress in improving its [anti-money laundering] regime”, and said it would stop monitoring the country.
However, neither report gave specific details on what improvements have been made, while the new AML Index continues to list Cambodia as “high risk”, with a rating of 7.93 out of 10 based on 14 indicators related to anti-money laundering regulations. Despite Cambodia’s apparent gains, it remains one of only three nations listed as high-risk in the East Asia and Pacific region, alongside Myanmar and Laos.
According to Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, while the Kingdom’s slight improvement might reflect a small increase in transparency and access to financial information, the country continues to face significant challenges in its fight against money laundering.
“The capacity of the relevant authorities, the means to enforce the law and to promote transparency is still quite limited,” he said.
In the US State Department’s 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Cambodia’s vulnerability to money laundering was reported to be “significant”, due to factors such as its dollarised economy, limited regulatory power and loose oversight of casinos.