Cambodia has invited the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to visit the country and assess its progress in combating money laundering in January in an effort to be removed from FATF’s grey list of countries deemed high risk for money laundering, officials revealed on Thursday.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng told a meeting of the national coordinating committee on anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, held in Phnom Penh on Thursday, that Cambodia has submitted its 10th round progress report to FATF which highlights “substantial progress” made since the 9th round report.
This comes after FATF confirmed in October that Cambodia remains on a list of Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring, meaning it is actively working with the agency to address what are described as “strategic deficiencies” in its AML mechanisms.
According to The Phnom Penh Post, Sar Kheng said Cambodia had fully implemented all of FATF’s recommended action plans and had therefore determined to allow FATF to assess the nation’s case in January 2023.
“We decided to allow the FATF to make an on-site visit to Cambodia,” he said. “It will be a golden opportunity for Cambodia to be removed from the grey list. That’s the last goal of the mission of the national coordination committee.”
However, Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, warned, “Though we may get off of the grey list soon, we must remember that if we allow the same problems to return, then the grey list will come back to Cambodia one day.”
At the heart of Cambodia’s money laundering concerns are the nation’s rampant casino industry, with concerns raised in recent months over heightened instances of crime, particularly human trafficking, in places like Sihanoukville and border towns like Bavet.
It is these operations that have become the focus of a government-led crackdown on illegal casinos and gambling dens announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in September.
The General Secretariat of the Commercial Gambling Management Commission of Cambodia (CGMC) also issued new guidelines for the operation of commercial casinos with a view to stamping out illegal casino operations across the country.