Anti-money laundering agency wants law to block WMD funds

pix 5The government’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is lobbying for speedier passage of a draft law that would empower it to block funding for production of weapons of mass destruction, warning that the country needs such legislation in place before an assessment by the Financial Action Task Force early next year.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body dedicated to fighting money laundering and terrorism financing. It examines and rates countries on how strongly they cooperate and how effectively they fight money laundering and funds that flow to terrorist groups.

The FATF had blacklisted Thailand in 2012 for failing to pass legislation to that would close loopholes in its anti-money laundering laws to bring them up to FATF standards. Parliament intended to pass the necessary laws, but massive flooding in large sections of the country in mid to late 2011 delayed legislative work. After the flood crisis passed, so did the legislation and Thailand was taken off the blacklist in 2013.

Nonetheless, the FATF has urged Thailand to make further legal changes. Lawmakers have been slow to act, however, because of a period of political turmoil that lasted from late 2013 to mid 2014. Since then, the new legislature has been overloaded passing laws to address a number of issues of domestic importance and those that have international ramifications, such as human trafficking, air safety and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Sihanart Prayoonrat, the head of AMLO, said that Thailand needs to move faster and push through a bill on the prevention and suppression of financial aid for the production of weapons of mass destruction and the sale of equipment required for manufacturing such weapons. A law has already been drafted but is only at the public-hearing stage, he said.

Thailand has demonstrated commitment to fighting terrorism, money laundering and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Just two weeks ago, the Ministry of Commerce added 1,230 items to its list of dual-use products. These goods will either face export restrictions or require inspection and permission before they can be shipped abroad so that they don’t end up in the hands of terrorists or others who may use them to manufacture weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

The United States Department of State has said that Thailand gives strong cooperation on counterterrorism and that the Kingdom had closely engaged with the U.S. on several investigations involving terrorist networks and acts.



Thailand Focus Week of October 19, 2015
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