FIGHT AGAINST MILKING IN
In light of the proliferation of illegal activities involving large sums of money, the legislative body of Thailand has put in place a comprehensive anti-money laundering law.
The Money Laundering Act was passed in March 1999 with the aim of eradicating the drug trade and combating other activities such as corruption, fraud and prostitution.
The recent amendments to the Act were made in March 2008, expanding the overall scope of criminal responsibility and increasing the power to conduct investigations and convulsions. The changes can also be seen as an attempt t o address the issue of perceived government corruption.
WHAT ARE THE TARGETED CRIMES?
Thai officials have complied with the requirements of accession to the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotoxic Substances.
A list of additional criminal offenses was added during the March 2008 amendments. The Act now covers the transfer or conversion of funds or property obtained from:
Prostitution and other related sexual offenses
Fraud involving financial institutions
Abuse of power by government officials
Trade in contraband
gambling offenses listed under gambling laws, specifically the large-scale organization of gambling.
PROVISIONS OF THE ACT
Under the provisions of the Act, it is considered a crime to transfer, convert or receive the transfer of funds or property from the above criminal offenses for the purpose of concealing the source of such funds. Under the Act, offenders are defined as persons who commit or attempt to commit a money laundering offense or who serve as an accomplice in that commission. The repression can be imprisonment of up to 10 years and payment of a fine of up to 200,000 baht.
The law also provides for a thorough investigation of banking transactions with other related financial transactions, giving enforcement officials the power to seize money or property that has been proved connected to one of the offenses listed. To recover seized property, the owner must be able to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the property is completely foreign to the commission of one of the listed crimes or a money laundering offense.
One of the key provisions of the Act requires banks and other financial institutions to declare all treasury operations of more than 2 million baht. This also includes real estate transactions, which must be presented if more than 5 million baht.
In the case of these transactions, financial institutions must ask their clients to provide a detailed account. This requirement is generally left to the financial discretion of the financial institution to reconcile client privacy concerns with compliance with the Act.
AMLO has also put in place a requirement for all people entering or leaving Thailand to declare the amount of currency in their possession to determine if the amount exceeds certain statutory levels.
Failure to comply with these requirements is liable to a fine of up to 300,000 baht. In addition, the filing of a false report can result in a fine of up to 500,000 Baht and a maximum imprisonment of two years.