The Council of Ministers has approved six draft laws including that on anti-money laundering, terrorism financing and counter-proliferation financing. The bills are considered urgent and would be sent to the National Assembly (NA) for deliberation in no later than a week.
Chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Friday Cabinet meeting also passed draft laws on legal mutual assistance in the penal sector, overlapping taxations involved with profit tax, tax evasion and tax avoidance between Cambodia, Malaysia and South Korea.
In a press release, the Council said it also passed a bill concerning the approval of Cambodia to be a member of the Berne Convention on the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
The Berne Convention allows authors of creative works to control how their work is used and by whom.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Sunday that the draft law on money laundering, terrorism financing and counter-proliferation financing was approved in their entirety.
The bill concerning legal mutual assistance in the penal sector was passed with changes of wording on three points, he said without elaborating.
On money laundering, Siphan said the government was simply fulfilling its obligation as a member of the regional bodies, and not as a response to a recent EU proposal to blacklist Cambodia.
“These legislative efforts are not to satisfy any group. It is the government’s efforts and the National Bank of Cambodia to improve and adopt laws that apply to member countries of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering,” he said.
He said because the law is deemed urgent, it will be sent to the NA for approval within seven days and come into force no later than a month after being promulgated by the King.
NA spokesperson Leng Peng Long confirmed to The Post on Sunday that the legislative body will immediately convene an internal meeting.
“We will immediately call a meeting to review the contents of the laws and assign them to the respective commissions for further study,” he said.
On May 7, the EU requested its parliament to add Cambodia and 11 other countries into a list of states that “pose significant threats” to its financial systems for failures to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing.
Cambodia joined Panama, the Bahamas, Mauritius, Barbados, Botswana, Ghana, Jamaica, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe in the expanded list, which is due to take effect in October.
Countries that were already on the blacklist are Afghanistan, Iraq, Vanuatu, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Iran and North Korea.
Libya and four US territories including American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam were left out following objections. Saudi Arabia, the current holder of the G20 presidency, was also spared from the list after “pressure” from the oil-producing powerhouse.
In February last year, Cambodia was also re-listed in the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a decision Cambodia said was “unfair”.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who convened a meeting for a final review of the money laundering bill last month, said putting Cambodia on the FATF grey list deters businesses from investing in the country.
The laws, he said, were drafted in light of progress in society and in line with international standards.