Burma put on money laundering watchlist

Burma put on money laundering watchlist

Top Stories | Mar 12, 2020:

Reuters

An international financial watchdog placed Burma on its money laundering watchlist in late February 2020, urging the country at the heart of Asia’s illicit drug-producing “Golden Triangle” to boost its efforts to seize crime proceeds.

The decision by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to include Burma on its “gray list,” puts the Southeast Asian nation on notice to make good on a “high-level” commitment to strengthen its anti-money laundering regime.

A spokesperson for Burma’s government could not be contacted, but its representative at recent FATF meetings, Kyaw Win Thein, said that the country had a detailed strategic implementation plan to counter money laundering.

The FATF, an intergovernmental agency based in Paris, said in a statement that Burma had “made progress.” This included introducing legislative measures to curb money laundering and new regulations for its cash-based remittance system.

However, it lacked understanding of “money laundering risks in key areas.”

In a 2018 report, the FATF found Burma “faces extremely high levels of proceeds-generating crimes” and was “exposed to a large number of very significant money laundering threats.”

Transnational drug syndicates have long operated in Burma’s north and northeastern borderlands, setting up illicit drug production facilities in semi-lawless enclaves controlled by armed ethnic groups.

Burma’s government is in peace talks with most of these groups. Some but not all have been incorporated into border guard forces allied to the military.

Arms trafficking, illegal jade mining and unlawful logging are also big money makers for organized crime, the 2018 report added.

The FATF statement urged Burma to cooperate with other countries to combat the money laundering activities of global crime groups. It also pinpointed the need for Burma to use financial intelligence in law enforcement investigations and do a better job seizing the proceeds of crime.

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