The Ministry of Justice has formed a task force to fight money laundering and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, consisting of 28 members led by justice minister Koeut Rith.
According to the decision signed by the minister on January 18, the task force was formed out of necessity and will fulfill several tasks such as overseeing the enforcement of the law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and the law on Prevention of the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, under the jurisdiction of the ministry.
The task force will prepare statistics on the investigations, charges, questioning and sentences of those prosecuted under the laws as well as the seizure of properties linked to money laundering crimes. They will also collect and compile the documents and evidence of the crimes.
“The task force has to push for the strengthening of investigations leading to the [criminal] charges and sentences for money laundering crimes. We will prepare a case study on money laundering crimes according to each stage of the investigation,” the letter said.
The task force will also collect data on the seizure of properties which are the product of money laundering crimes and freezing of assets such as bank accounts and other financial means linked to the crimes.
“The task force has to update the implementation of the action plan of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering every four months and annually,” the letter said.
Chin Malin, ministry secretary of state and deputy chief of the task force, told The Post that it was to make the laws against money laundering, financing of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction work effectively. He said this specific task forces work only on justice sector.
“This is the internal task of the justice ministry to increase the effectiveness of combating terrorism financing, money laundering and financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the formation of the task force is a good response to the recommendations of international standards which Cambodia has committed to adopting such as the anti-money laundering standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
He said the financial action task force previously said that Cambodia lacked legal standards and implementation procedures.
“But now, Cambodia has legal standards. So, we welcome the work of the justice ministry and the creation of this specific task force for following and enforcing the laws which we already have. This is good progress.
“What we still encourage is effective law enforcement and enforcement of the law equally and without exceptions. We encourage them working as a system and collaborating with relevant partners, including banking systems and other ways of money transfer.
He said the task force should also work with civil society and the media, which can help on the enforcement side of the anti-money laundering effort.
According to Pesey, Cambodia does not have a good reputation in this area and the country is seen by others as a place with a high-risk for money laundering and a place where dirty money without a clear source flows to.
He said that if money laundering persists, it could discourage honest investors from coming to Cambodia and encourage other criminal activity.