The tax chief on October 26 assured his commitment to countering money laundering and moving Cambodia into the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “white list” after three consecutive years on the “grey list” for increased monitoring – from 2020-2022 – to build a sound, more attractive investment environment in the Kingdom.

Speaking at the EuroCham Annual Tax Forum, General Department of Taxation (GDT) director-general Kong Vibol listed some of the GDT’s main priorities in the area as: ensuring fair competition, combatting revenue losses resulting from tax evasion schemes, and fighting money laundering.

He emphasised that a competent anti-money laundering regime could put the Kingdom back on the Paris-based inter-governmental organisation’s “white list” and thereby enable it to attract more businesses and foreign direct investment (FDI).

“But now that we’re on the ‘grey list’, there’s lots of doubt, and many potential investors are taking a wait-and-see approach,” Vibol said.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sharing experiences with Cambodian customs officials on investigation techniques, money laundering and terrorist financing from October 24-28 at a joint workshop between the Washington-based multilateral lender and the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), with financial support from Japan.

Cambodia is seen as making steady progress towards an exit from the “grey list”, bolstered by the new Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism that was promulgated on June 27, 2020.

Speaking to The Post on October 27, Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey commented that the consequences of money laundering and terrorist financing reverberate throughout a whole variety of sectors.

Considering that, Pisey suggests that a single major institution take the reins and drive a unified government-devised strategy for a counterattack against these illegal activities, armed with clear mechanisms and initiatives as well as a qualified team, while regularly engaging with the pertinent international organisations.

“Cambodia has been moving along the right path with the FATF – an inter-governmental organisation tasked with developing policies to combat international money laundering and the financing of terrorism – apropos the passage of the anti-money laundering law,” he said.

According to Pisey, an inter-ministerial committee led by the Ministry of Justice was recently established to combat money laundering.

“Inter-ministerial work has been assigned on the issue, but something that’s still lacking is law enforcement, especially as it concerns systematic investigations as well as the arrest and conviction of suspects,” he said.

He also called for financial institutions, accountants, lawyers, gambling businesses and other entities frequently associated with money laundering to work with the competent authorities to clamp down on the criminal practice.

“With serious political will and working systematically with relevant stakeholders in anti-money laundering, while teaming up with the regional and international communities as per the FATF, I do believe we can move out of the ‘grey list’ and into the ‘white list’,” he said.

Pisey previously suggested that the Kingdom has yet to comply with all of the FATF's recommendations, but did not rule out a possible 2023 exit from the “grey list”, through determined concerted efforts among the government and all parties involved.

Cambodia in June 2004 became a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an FATF-style regional inter-governmental agency.

The Bangkok-based group undertakes regular mutual evaluations of member jurisdictions to ascertain whether they comply, or to what extent they comply, with their obligations to maintain anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing systems that meet the evolving global standards.