House backs money laundering legislation
Govt acts to combat watchdog criticism
The House has unanimously approved in principle two anti-money laundering bills intended to tackle terrorism.
The House voted 368-0 in favour of the anti-money laundering bill and 356-0 for the counter-financing of terrorism bill and formed a committee to scrutinise them. The government proposed the bills to the House to expand the range of legal actions which authorities can take against money laundering so they also cover terrorism suppression.
Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, who proposed the bills, said they added terrorism to the list of crimes covered by anti-money laundering laws.
Under the bills, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) will be authorised to compile lists of terrorists, take legal action against them and their financial supporters and block their transactions.
The government introduced the bills to remove Thailand from a dark-grey list of "high risk" countries for financial transactions.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in February downgraded Thailand to a rating shared by countries such as Cuba and Ethiopia for its lack of laws to curb financial misconduct.
The FATF is an international body which sets standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It said Thailand lacked sufficient laws against the financing of terrorism. When high risk status is imposed, the international community can impose sanctions against transactions involving Thailand.
Alongkorn Ponlaboot, a Democrat list MP, said the House had wasted time with attempts to pass constitutional amendment and amnesty bills.
This delayed the anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism bills, which the opposition supported, he said.
Mr Pracha, however, said the drafting process was complicated and took time.
By Mongkol Bangprapa
14 June 2012