Cambodia's ad hoc sub-commission to implement an action plan laid out by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG-JG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is stepping up efforts to address the issue in a bid to move the Kingdom off the FATF grey list.

Founded in 1989 at the behest of the Group of Seven (G7), FATF – an intergovernmental organisation tasked with developing policies to combat international money laundering and the funding of terrorism – regularly issues its so-called ‘grey list’ of nations which show strategic deficiencies in efforts to prevent these crimes.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said that implementing the action plan is a time sensitive task as FATF will next month hold a congress and evaluate Cambodia’s position on the list.

“This congress will decide whether Cambodia will remain on the grey list or be moved to the black list. Until the congress is held, we do not know what the result will be,” he said.

He said the sub-commission, led by justice minister Koeut Rith, has the urgent task of carrying out the remaining actions suggested by FATF if it is to avoid being transferred to the black list, or even to remain on the grey list. It may be too early to lose its grey status, he said.

FATF said in October last year that Cambodia had made a high-level political commitment to work with the task force to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding laws and address any related technical deficiencies in February 2019. The country has demonstrated sanctions being applied to some financial institutions for breaching such laws.

“However, Cambodia needs to take urgent action to fully address the remaining measures in its action plan as all timelines have already expired,” FATF said.

According to FATF, the Kingdom should continue to enhance the dissemination of financial intelligence to law enforcement authorities and demonstrate an increase in money laundering investigations and prosecutions. Cambodia should also demonstrate an increase in the freezing and confiscation of criminal proceeds, it said.

“The FATF expresses concern that Cambodia failed to complete its action plan, which expired in January 2021, and strongly urges it to complete its action plan by February 2022. Should insufficient progress be made at that time, the next step will be decided by FATF,” it said in a statement last October.

Koeut Rith led a meeting on January 28 to review reports on the implementation of the action plan. He also set targets to be met by the deputy chiefs and members of the sub-commission and reminded them that this task was one of national importance.

“As you can see, we have a sub-commission equipped with the mechanisms required to fulfil the remaining tasks that we have not completed. We are increasing the human resources dedicated to fighting money laundering and building the capacity of our law enforcement officials,” Malin said.