Kingdom lauded for stand against money laundering

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Three Chinese nationals were arrested while trying to bring in an undeclared sum of $900,000 from Hong Kong through the Phnom Penh International Airport in July last year. Fresh News

A prominent civil society official applauded the Kingdom’s efforts in its fight against money laundering after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court recently handed down prison sentences to five Chinese nationals for bringing in an undeclared sum of $1.75 million.

Last month, the court sentenced the five, including one in absentia, to two years each for their involvement in two separate cases committed last year.

The first involved four suspects – Yang Yongwei, Huang Canming, Li Zheng Zheng and Wu Li. Yang, Huang and Li were arrested on July 9, last year, while trying to bring in an undeclared sum of $900,000 through the Phnom Penh International Airport. Wu, the alleged mastermind, was tried in absentia.

The court’s ruling announced on July 13, this year, said Yang, Huang and Li brought the money from Hong Kong on Wu’s instruction.

The court ordered them to pay a 40 million riel ($9,750) fine each, and also issued an arrest warrant for Wu.

In the second case, the same court sentenced Liao Jingoing, 49, to two years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 12 million riel for bringing in an undeclared sum of $855,000 from Hong Kong.

Liao, who worked for a decoration and construction company in Fuzhou town, Fujian province, China, was arrested on May 29 at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey told The Post on Monday that an effective investigation leading to the prosecution of criminals involved in money laundering was one of the most crucial steps in Cambodia’s anti-money laundering campaign, as recommended by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

“I applaud the Ministry of Justice and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for this significant effort. Cambodia has been listed as a high-risk country for money laundering, so I want to see such effective law enforcement.

“Tackling money laundering and terrorism financing will contribute to a better investment climate in Cambodia,” Pisey said.

Cambodia recently promulgated two laws on money laundering and terrorism financing, and the law on counter-proliferation financing.

The promulgation is seen as part of the country’s serious commitment and effort in a joint fight with other international organisations and countries against money laundering and terrorism.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said as a FATF member, Cambodia always complies with conditions set by the body.

“The prison sentences meted out to the accused in money laundering cases is a message to the international community and criminal elements that Cambodia is standing strong against money laundering,” he said.