The National Committee to Combat Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction has instructed all units acting as judicial authorities to set up standard operating procedures and cooperate with relevant institutions in their investigations.

The four-page set of instructions was issued on March 14 and signed by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who is also the chairman of the committee.

Sar Kheng said Cambodia – which is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (AGP) – has enforced the conditions set by the APG and the recommendations given by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including those related to the investigation and prosecution of money laundering cases.

The FATF – an intergovernmental body formed to combat money laundering in July, 1989, at the G7 summit – maintains a “grey list” of countries whose enforcement efforts are considered subpar as well as a “black list” of countries that are found to be actively abetting money laundering or inhibiting investigations.

He said Cambodia has investigated many money laundering cases with some leading to prosecution and the freezing of assets. However, all units that have a level of authority equal to judicial police need to have their own procedures for cooperation with national institutions and cooperation with the Cambodian Financial Intelligence unit.

Sar Kheng also said in the instructions that government entities need to detail their procedures from the start of their investigations to the final stages when a case is sent to court.

He said Cambodian law permits the courts, Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), police and Military Police to obtain the necessary Call Data Records (CDR) to serve the purposes of an investigation. In this regard, any unit qualified as judicial police can cooperate with them to obtain the CDR.

Sar Kheng said units qualified as judicial police must work with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to obtain the identity of the owners of vehicles involved in crimes and work with the ministries of Interior and National Defence when the vehicles have police or military number plates, respectively.

Judicial police can also ask for travel information and the identities of individuals involved in the crimes at the interior ministry and they can work with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction for information regarding assets and property. Should they need information on a suspect’s businesses or companies, they should work with the Ministry of Commerce.

“The ministries or institutions which have legal qualification as judicial police can request financial reports from the Cambodian Financial Intelligence Unit by following the law in their sectors or in cooperation with the courts, if necessary,” Sar Kheng said.

He said that after receiving financial reports from the Cambodian Financial Intelligence Unit, the judicial police have to analyse it and take further action as stated in their individual procedures to search for the identity of individuals and find more evidence and refer the case to court. They have to request the freezing of assets that are suspected to be associated with money laundering in a timely manner.

“To serve the purposes of the investigation and build the case to the court, the ministries and entities which receive requests for cooperation from qualified judicial police as stated above have to respond to those requests immediately,” Sar Kheng said.

Cambodia is beefing up its anti-money laundering campaign and enforcing the newly promulgated relevant laws and legal standards ahead of the FATF evaluation, with the Kingdom expecting that it will be removed from the “grey list” of countries with sub-par efforts at preventing money laundering.