Anti-money laundering police have urged the public to be alert when using their identity cards, warning that they should not allow other people to use their bank accounts for money transfers as such actions could be connected to money laundering.
According to National Police investigator Phan Sopheak, money laundering occurs in many forms, usually stemming from other crimes such as fraud and drug trafficking. Illicit gains from crimes committed abroad could also be transferred to Cambodia, and the public should be wary, he cautioned.
Sopheak stressed that people should not let others use their identity cards, particularly to open bank accounts, and those who have a bank account should avoid letting others make use of it because of the risk of inadvertently participating in criminal activity, including facilitating the laundering of money.
“If someone has been asked to lend their identity or stand in as a proxy to register a business or open a bank account, regardless of whether it is by a family member or friend, they should be very cautious.
“They should ask what the business will be – what product or service, and why they need someone to stand on their behalf. They should also inquire how the money would be processed,” Sopheak said.
“When someone considers a proposition to act on behalf of someone else in a business matter, they should ask themselves whether they would be abetting money launderers. Those who ask for such assistance could be criminals who are involved in corruption or drugs.
“Whatever the amount, helping someone to launder money can shift the legal consequences to an unsuspecting victim and enable the real criminals to clear their tracks and get away,” he added.
Sopheak noted that police have seen many cases in which people were asked by others to open accounts or lend use of existing accounts. Sometimes, people have been asked to receive bailments – taking temporary custody of another’s property. Police warn that such requests could entail parcels of contraband or funds being laundered.
He sternly warned against all such activities.
“Please don’t stand on behalf of others to open a business, don’t accept bailments, don’t send things on behalf of others and don’t let others use your bank account,” he said.
Sopheak explained that Cambodia is often asked by other countries to cooperate with investigations of fraud and other offences committed abroad where products of those crimes have been transferred into the Kingdom. He said police might receive one or two such requests each week, amounting to 50 or 60 per year, from around the world.
“Our leaders within the National Police, especially His Excellency Dy Vichea, are always open to cooperation with friends of Cambodia. We take immediate action. With some countries, it is challenging because they require many documents like court verdicts or letters from the foreign ministry,” he said.
Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said that in today’s era of advanced technology, criminals have many tricks to defraud people, especially in countries with weak legal systems and where the public has limited understanding of such risks.
“It is important that we raise awareness among the people on these matters. People must be careful to protect themselves. Fraud happens in many forms – under the guise of high-return investments or shareholding, for example.
“All of these may be fraudulent. Public institutions and NGO partners need to continue educating members of the public with regard to these problems and how to avoid them,” Pisey said.