A Chinese welder, 48, who is suspected of attempting to launder money was arrested by Phnom Penh municipal authorities on Wednesday night after he was found entering Cambodia with $855,000.
The Chinese national was detained at Phnom Penh International Airport after he was found attempting to smuggle the cash into Cambodia from Hong Kong.
General Department of Immigration spokesman Keo Vanthorn told The Post on Thursday that the man would appear in court on Friday. Authorities were investigating further to find others involved, he added.
“We are gathering a case to present to the court. Because the suspect could not clearly specify the source of the cash and how he intended to use it in Cambodia, we charged him with suspected money laundering,” Vanthorn said.
The suspect was found with $855,000 in 72 wads of notes, a Chinese passport, a mobile phone and two backpacks.
Article 3 of the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism defines money laundering as “the conversion or transfer of property, knowing that such property is the proceeds of offence, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of helping any person who is involved in the commission of the offence to evade the legal consequences of his or her action”.
It carries a prison sentence of between six days and one year, and a fine ranging from 100,000 to five million riel ($25-$1,250).
Second time in over a month
On April 23, the Immigration and General Department of Customs and Excise officials at Phnom Penh International airport arrested three Chinese nationals for attempting to bring $3,520,000 into the Kingdom from Hong Kong without being able to identify its source.
Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, told The Post on Thursday that as this was the second time in just over a month that suspected money launderers had been arrested at Phnom Penh airport, it was a worrying sign that the Kingdom was becoming a major destination for the laundering of money, particularly from China.
He said authorities must take measures to combat the problem.
“The authorities must tighten the supervision of land borders, seaports and airports where visitors arrive, especially from China,” Kol said.