Central Bank To Combat Financial Crimes

The Bank of the Lao PDR is gaining support from the local and foreign communities after receiving legal backup to fight financial crimes in the country.

The National Assembly approved the Law on Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism last month, giving legal backup for the central bank to fight against commercial crimes in the country ahead of establishment of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

ANZ Lao, one of the international commercial banks in the country, joined with the Bank of the Lao PDR last Thursday to hold a workshop, aiming to educate Lao bank officials on how to combat financial crimes in the country.

A number of diplomats from the UK and US embassies, as well as representatives from international organisations and banks also attended the one-day meeting where they expressed concerns over the rising threat of financial crimes such as money laundering and supplying funds to terrorism.

The meeting also raised concerns on the negative impact to commercial banks if they committed financial crimes.

Over the past decade, money laundering and supplying funds to terrorism had been an issue of debate as financial crimes caused negative impacts to not only economic development but also security.

Many countries have introduced measures to combat and reduce financial crimes gradually.

Laos is one of the countries, which has taken part in the battle against financial crimes. The government approved a decree on anti money laundering, giving the green light for the Bank of the Lao PDR to establish a specific task force to deal with financial crimes.

In 2007, the Bank of the Lao PDR became a member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

However, implementation of the group’s obligations was not satisfactory due to the lack of legal backing while the capacity of Laos to combat financial crimes was still low.

The Bank of the Lao PDR expects to gain more support in fighting financial crimes from local and international committees after achieving legal backup.

The Bank of the Lao PDR Governor Mr Somphao Phaysith told the National Assembly conference that Laos needed to have an anti money laundering law before 2015, otherwise the country would be back listed, which would create difficulty for banks in Laos to do interna tional transaction services.

Trade and investment would shut down if the commercial banks in the count ry could not offer international transaction services.

There are more than 30 commercial banks in Laos. The central bank announced this month that it would no longer consider or approve the establishment of new commercial banks in the country after learning that it needed to increase its capacity to supervise the banking sector.

Source: Vientiane Times