Money-Laundering Highlighted as Priority for Burma's New Govt

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 17 March 2016

RANGOON — The UK-based International Governance and Risk Institute (GovRisk) has highlighted financial crime as a priority for Burma as a new government prepares to take power next month.

In a statement released on Thursday, GovRisk, a provider of training and consultancy services in financial crime prevention, noted that Burma is on the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist for money laundering, but that it can be removed from the list if it can install sufficient policies to combat money laundering by the next FATF site visit.

“This is a complex subject. We want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to understand what’s going on regarding financial crimes prevention,” Nicolas Le Moignan, director of training and consultancy at GovRisk, told The Irrawaddy.

GovRisk noted that in 2017 Burma will undergo an independent assessment of its adherence to the international standards set to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering, defined as turning money generated from illegal activity into seemingly legitimate funds.

“We hope to continue work with the new government [in the field of] anti-money laundering. We’ve worked with the financial intelligence unit for three years now,” Le Moignan said.

Burma’s financial intelligence unit works with police officials to investigate and report any suspicious business activity that might be linked to money laundering.

According to Marcus Stewart, who worked for years with Britain’s FIU,  anti-money laundering measures such as the 2014 Anti-Money Laundering Law require the private sector to identify where criminal money may have entered the financial system or other sectors such as real estate, law firms and accountants.

Burma’s FIU has made investigations into the real estate industry since 2014. Police Col. Kyaw Win Thein, the FIU’s deputy chief, encouraged real estate agents and bankers to report transactions involving large sums of cash, a response to suspicions that money laundering was rife within Burma’s property market and financial institutions. Banks were also asked to report clients with cash savings over a certain amount, though this figure was never released.

GovRisk noted that if Burma were to be removed from the FATF list, it would signal that some of the key building blocks needed to combat money laundering are in place.