Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng: Dirty money could harm development



Sar Kheng: Dirty money could harm development

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Three Chinese men arrested with nearly $1 million in cash at Phnom Penh International Airport​ on Tuesday last week. POLICE

Sar Kheng: Dirty money could harm development

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Wednesday that money laundering could become a major obstacle to Cambodia’s development and ordered the authorities to strengthen land, sea and air checkpoints as part of the campaign to combat the crime.

Sar Kheng’s order followed global money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, placing Cambodia on its “grey list” in February after it found what it called “significant deficiencies” that left the country vulnerable to flows of hidden illegal money.

Recently, nine people were detained in two seizures at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports of a combined total of $7.4 million in cash.

“The authorities must not back down in the campaign to combat money laundering at land, sea and air checkpoints or wherever it occurs. Our country’s reputation is at stake and we must uphold international laws."

“As I have said before, if they consider Cambodia a money-laundering destination, it will badly impact our banking system, including the national bank and private banks. This is a huge obstacle, so all of us must understand the problem in detail and not collude with offenders."

“It benefits some people, but we must put the national and public interest first. We are committed to addressing this problem,” said Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister.

Kirth Chantharith, the director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration, said on Wednesday that National Police officials had been thoroughly investigating the money laundering issue in collaboration with international institutions.

“Now it is under investigation step by step. We questioned the offenders and their answers showed that laundered money rarely has a clear source. They all gave the same answer that they had brought the money here to invest in land and property."

“But in the Siem Reap case, they said they were hired to carry the money. They hide their identities and haven’t told us who they are,” Chantharith said.

He said the General Department of Immigration has begun making stricter checks at international borders after receiving the order from the ministry, and this is what led to the recent large-scale seizures.

Rights group Adhoc spokesperson Soeng Sen Karuna welcomed the government’s campaign to crack down on money laundering, saying that if Cambodia does not stop it, it could fall into the Financial Action Task Force’s “blacklist”.

“We are worried because we have now been put on the grey list. Next, we could be put on the blacklist and we’ll have trouble getting money to flow into the system via international banks."

“So in order to regain confidence, the government has to show there are mechanisms in place to prevent people laundering dirty money in Cambodia,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration

  • Howard Johnson opens in Sihanoukville

    New York Stock Exchange- (NYSE) listed hotel franchiser Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc (WH) has opened its first hotel in the Kingdom – the Howard Johnson Plaza by Wyndham Blue Bay Sihanoukville, WH said in a February 18 press release. WH said the new 36-storey property in Sihanoukville’

  • Cambodia’s new draft law on investment and its effects

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has completed the drafting of the long-awaited new Law on Investment. The draft will be later tabled at the Economic and Financial Policy Committee before being submitted to the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly for