Tax chief pledges to get off money laundering ‘grey list’

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The tax chief assured on October 26 his commitment to fight against money laundering and to bring Cambodia on the “white list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after three consecutive years on the “grey list”. for increased monitoring – from 2020 to 2022 – to build a healthy and more attractive investment environment in the Kingdom.

Speaking at EuroCham’s Annual Tax Forum, the Director General of the General Department of Taxation (GDT), Kong Vibol, listed some of the main priorities of the GDT in this area: ensuring fair competition, tackling revenue losses resulting from tax evasion schemes and combating money laundering.

He pointed out that a competent anti-money laundering regime could put the Kingdom back on the “white list” of the Paris-based intergovernmental organization and thus enable it to attract more businesses and foreign direct investment (FDI).

“But now that we are on the ‘grey list’, there are many doubts and many potential investors are taking a wait-and-see approach,” Vibol said.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sharing its experiences with Cambodian customs officials on investigative techniques, money laundering and terrorist financing from October 24-28 at a joint workshop between the multilateral lender based in Washington and the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), with financial support from Japan.

Cambodia is seen as making steady progress towards exiting the “grey list”, bolstered by the new Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Law which was enacted on June 27, 2020.

Speaking to The Post on October 27, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, Pech Pisey, said the consequences of money laundering and terrorist financing affect a variety of sectors.

Considering this, Pisey suggests that a single large institution take the reins and drive a unified government-designed strategy for a counterattack against these illegal activities, armed with clear mechanisms and initiatives as well as a qualified team, while engaging regularly with relevant international organizations. .

“Cambodia has made good progress with the FATF – an intergovernmental organization responsible for developing policies against international money laundering and the financing of terrorism – on the adoption of the Anti-Money Laundering Law. money,” he said.

According to Pisey, an interdepartmental committee headed by the Ministry of Justice was recently created to combat money laundering.

“Interdepartmental work has been assigned on the issue, but what is still lacking is law enforcement, especially with regard to systematic investigations as well as the arrest and sentencing of suspects,” he said. -he declares.

He also called on financial institutions, accountants, lawyers, gambling businesses and other entities frequently associated with money laundering to work with relevant authorities to crack down on this criminal practice.

“With serious political will and working systematically with relevant stakeholders in the fight against money laundering, while teaming up with regional and international communities in accordance with the FATF, I believe we can get off the ‘grey list’ “and get into the ‘whitelist.'” he said.

Pisey had previously suggested that the Kingdom had not yet complied with all FATF recommendations, but had not ruled out a possible exit from the “grey list” in 2023, thanks to determined concerted efforts between the government and all parties. concerned.

Cambodia became in June 2004 a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a regional intergovernmental agency of the FATF type.

The Bangkok-based group undertakes regular mutual assessments of member jurisdictions to determine whether they comply, or to what extent they comply, with their obligations to maintain anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing systems that meet to ever-changing global standards.

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