Cambodian officials have come to the end of a yearlong training program led by foreign officials on how to combat financial crimes amid concerns from the international community that the country is vulnerable to money launderers and financers of terrorism.
In a joint statement Monday, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union’s delegation to Cambodia said that dozens of Cambodian police had been trained in both basic and advanced investigative skills to root out money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism.
“Since September last year, 60 Cambodian Counter Terrorism Police Officers received training in basic and advanced investigation techniques related to anti-money laundering and counter financing terrorism,” the statement says, adding that selected officials had been given specialist skills to pass their training on to other Cambodian officials.
“Cambodia is a country that grows fast but remains fragile, with the potential of being attractive for terrorist-related activities or a safe haven for terrorists,” the statement quotes E.U. delegation counselor Alain Vandersmissen as saying.
Concerns have long been raised over the risk of financial crimes going undetected in Cambodia’s growing, but under-regulated financial sector.
In 2007, the government passed a law on money laundering and terrorist financing, and in 2008 established the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), based within the National Bank of Cambodia, but few prosecutions have been brought.
Training has been plentiful, though, with the British Embassy in Phnom Penh funding a weeklong training session in March for the FIU and other officials.
Just last week, staff from private banks, anti-corruption officials, legal professionals and police received training from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on fighting financial crime, which was also part of a longer training program.
In comments sent by email last week, a trainer from the IRS, who asked to remain anonymous, said that training would help Cambodian authorities to bring financial criminals to justice.
“Financial investigations reveal what happens after the ill-gotten proceeds are obtained by the criminals or where the criminal proceeds are moved to afterwards,” the trainer said.
“Financial investigations help paint a more complete picture of the criminal and the accumulated wealth.
“The challenge in any financial investigation is the level of complexity involved to prove the crime was committed in court.”