With growing concern from the international community that Cambodia is vulnerable to money launderers and financers of terrorism, the Council of Ministers on Friday approved a sub-decree on freezing the assets of terrorist organizations and the institutions that support them.
“The sub-decree stipulates procedures and rules in freezing the assets of terrorists and other relevant institutes in compliance with [U.N. resolutions] and other decisions,” says a statement from the Council of Ministers.
The statement says that the new legislation would allow for stricter implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposes sanctions on individuals or entities associated with al-Qaida or the Taliban, as well as a resolution that encourages countries to share intelligence related to terrorism and strictly enforce their own anti-terrorism laws.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the sub-decree provided further evidence of the government’s commitment to preventing money laundering.
“We are already taking care of…the irregularity of money transferring or other means [of money laundering], but this law gives us more sophisticated [means] to carry out our work and suppress money laundering,” Mr. Siphan said.
“This is to remind us that we are partners with the world to work against terrorism,” he added.
A draft of the sub-decree was reviewed during a three-hour meeting last week at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which included representatives from the National Bank of Cambodia, the Council for the Development of Cambodia and the Anti-Corruption Unit.
In 2004, Cambodia joined the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, which demands that members meet international standards to combat financial crimes.
In 2007, the government passed a law on money laundering and terrorist financing, and in 2008 established the Financial Intelligence Unit, based within the National Bank of Cambodia, but few prosecutions have been brought.
In March, the National Bank of Cambodia’s Financial Intelligence Unit, law enforcement officials, and private banks took part in a weeklong training program to address the problem of money laundering.
A global financial crimes expert who took part in the training said that Cambodia’s expanding economy, as well as increased trade with China, made the country more likely to be targeted by money launderers in the coming years.
The U.S. State Department’s annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, published in March, in its section on financial crime in Cambodia, said the country had “significant money laundering vulnerability,” citing the cash-based dollarized economy, informal financial systems, porous borders and limited regulation.
During its meeting on Friday, presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Council of Ministers also passed a law creating an action plan to reduce traffic deaths.
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