Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss and rectify draft laws concerning anti-money laundering, terrorism financing and counter-proliferation financing, according to government spokesman Phay Siphan.
Siphan told The Post that the Council of Ministers decided to have the meeting because the issue has stayed unresolved for some time, and the draft laws require urgent attention.
“I don’t remember how long it’s been since the last cabinet meeting, I know for certain this meeting is urgent,” he said.
The meeting, which will take place at the Peace Palace, will also touch on several different laws, including that 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.
The draft law concerning the approval of Cambodia to be a member of the Berne Convention on the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works will also be discussed, he said.
The Berne Convention allows authors of creative works to control how their work is used and by whom. It also offers special provisions to developing countries wishing to grant these protections.
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 the EU’s financial systems for failures to tackle money laundering and financing terrorism.
Siphan maintained that Cambodia was not reacting to the EU’s proposed blacklisting, saying it has been fighting money laundering and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction for a long time.
“Cambodia is committed to implementing measures against money laundering which serves terrorist activities and affects international trade,” he said.
Social and political analyst Meas Nee said the decision to have the Cabinet meeting on Friday was necessary for Cambodia to respond to the EU.
“The EU does not have evidence to prove Cambodia has a hand in money laundering but they are suspicious, so it is quite dangerous for the country’s economy,” he said.
He said the EU’s suspicion is related to Cambodia’s history. He referenced rumours of importing millions of dollars through international borders and abnormalities in the country’s investment capital and casino sector.
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.