Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Launderers at bay, for now

Launderers at bay, for now

Launderers at bay, for now

THOUGH Cambodia lacks the sophisticated institutions and oversight necessary to combat money laundering, corruption and a relatively low GDP make it an unattractive prospect to international launderers – at least for now – said a financial crimes and governance consultancy yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of a five-day workshop on anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism held by the International Governance and Risk Institute, former Netherlands central bank adviser Gert Demmink said that despite the Kingdom’s weak measures for preventing laundering, the same qualities that deter above-board investment would continue to discourage criminal investment in the form of dirty money until the country’s economy grew and formalised.

“Money launderers are investors. They are looking for stability; they don’t want to lose their money to corruption,” he said, noting that Cambodia’s comparatively small economy also made it harder for large financial transactions to be lost in the shuffle.

“If a money launderer were to bring $10 million into Cambodia . . . I think the central bank would notice,” he added

Demmink also noted that as Cambodia’s economy grows, so must its safe guards, saying that right now, “Cambodia isn’t on [launderers’] list, but eventually, you will be”.

However, National Bank of Cambodia Director General Ngoun Sokha said he was “not concerned about the risk of money laundering and financial terrorism, because we have established the Financial Intelligence Unit as a strong body for monitoring the issues”.

“We have strengthened law and regulation enforcement, and we have educated all banks to pay strong attention to this issue,” he added.

The intergovernmental body Financial Action Task Force, on the other hand, reiterated in a posting to their website last month that Cambodia was not “ensuring [the existence of] a fully operational and effectively functioning Financial Intelligence Unit” – among other things – despite having committed to do so nearly two years ago.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, echoed the task force’s assessment, saying the Kingdom lacks “adequate legal frameworks and mechanisms for accountability and transparency” in its financial system.

“[The] Financial Intelligence Unit can be more reliable and effective only if the above mechanisms and conditions are in place,” he added.


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty