Officials warn that weak regulations and booming casino industry could facilitate terrorist financing
POLICE and bank employees are undergoing training in how to combat money laundering, with an eye on shutting down possible routes for terrorist financing.
"Combating the financing of terrorism and anti-money-laundering is a new, hot and very important issue for the region," National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) Governor Chea Chanto said at the start of the three-day seminar that ends today.
The event is being hosted by the NBC, with support from the Asian Development Bank and the Bank of Nagara Malaysia.
"The seminar is very essential for cooperation in the region, [and we] can learn from other countries' experiences," Chea Chanto said.
He added that the discussions were aimed at developing a national strategy to fight dirty money.
Twenty-eight police officials, bank employees and ministerial officials are participating in the seminar, which was also attended by UN officials.
The US government has listed Cambodia as a major centre for money laundering, citing the low conviction rate for laundering cases.
To date, only four laundering cases have been brought to court, raising concerns that the Kingdom's loose policing makes it an easy target for extremist groups seeking to build sources of clean funds.
According to a March 2008 US State Department report, casinos, luxury goods and property are often used to launder money.
The report adds, however, that while criminal organisations operate in Cambodia, no known terrorist organisations have used the country to launder money.
In June 2007 the government approved new legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing giving the NBC far-reaching powers to investigate other banks.
NBC Director General Tal Nai Im told the Post Tuesday that the seminar would have to be followed by more international support.
Outside organisations have provided significant funding for Cambodia's anti-laundering efforts, but say that the Kingdom needed to introduce new methods of stopping the practice.