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Cablegate: Prospects for Future Usg Assistance to the Thai Anti-Money

VZCZCXRO7409
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #6234/01 3550729
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210729Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1173
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 006234

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INL/AAE,SCT,EEB AND EAP/RSP
JUSTICE FOR AFMLS, OIA, AND OPDAT
TREASURY FOR FINCEN

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KCRM SNAR TH
SUBJECT: Prospects for Future USG Assistance to the Thai Anti-Money
Laundering Office

Ref: State 05603

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Visiting USDOJ Official Linda Samuel accompanied
by Embassy Bangkok officers called on senior Thai Anti-Money
Laundering Office officials and held a productive discussion of
possible new USG-RTG cooperation and capacity building assistance.
The visit responded to a recent RTG decision, after 3 years of USG
urging, to abolish a defective policy of personal cash awards to
Thai law enforcement officers who successfully seized contraband
funds and assets. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Ms. Linda Samuel, Deputy Chief of the Department of
Justice Criminal Division/Asset Forfeiture and Money laundering
Division called on the RTG Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO)
December 7 during a brief stopover in Bangkok. Ms. Samuel's visit
was occasioned by the Thai government's recent abolishment of a
system that since 2004 paid personal rewards to law enforcement
officers as a percentage of funds seized. The Embassy and DOJ, as
well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and several
third-country embassies, had urged Thai authorities over the past
three years to abolish the inherently ineffective policy that served
to skew criminal case prioritization in favor of higher cash value
targets. The U.S. additionally halted technical assistance programs
to AMLO while the controversial system was in place. Joining Ms.
Samuel was OPDAT Senior Regional Director for European/Pacific
Programs Christopher Lehmann, Embassy NAS Director Terry Daru, NAS
Resident Legal Advisor Phil Geuntert, and USDOJ Office of
International Affairs Attach Chris Sonderby. The group was invited
to AMLO by Anti-Money Laundering Board Secretary General Yuthabool
Dissamarn and Deputy Secretary General Seehanat Prayoonrat, who
wished to broach future assistance programs to Thailand now that the
USG ban on assistance has been lifted.

3. (SBU) Ms Samuel's raised her concern at the onset that the Prime
Minister's order to abolish the rewards system in fact contains a
savings (grandfather) clause that would permit further payments for
asset seizure that took place prior to the order's effective date.
Yuthabool acknowledged that while the abolishment order
theoretically allowed payments for cases that were finalized and
approved for payment prior to October 2007, in fact only 'one or
two' legacy cases now exist that could meet the criteria for
payment, and that in any event no funds had or would be appropriated
by the Parliament to AMLO in order to make such payments. Yuthabool
also explained that in additional to the Prime Minister's
abolishment of the controversial rewards system, the Cabinet was
working to restructure AMLO itself in order to add emphasis to its
Financial Institution Unit (FIU) monitoring role as well as to
upgrade AMLO's Asset Management Division to bureau status.

4. (SBU) Yuthabool and his senior staff went on to describe some of
the goals that AMLO has developed in order to improve RTG monitoring
and enforcement performance. These include:

* Develop mechanisms for cooperation between the Ministry of
Finance, the Department of Special Investigations and AMLO;

* Issue and implement Ministerial Regulations to extend transaction
reporting requirements to jewelry and gold shops, and real estate
transactions;

* Expand use of AMLO's sophisticated tracking software that relies
on point-of-contact transaction reporting, to include electronic
reporting and monitoring of all financial transactions;

* Better regulate financial institutions, and levy fines;

* Develop AMLO's existing Thai-created Asset Management Software
(AMCATs) for 3rd party use;

* Create Accessible Databases to manage and utilize Terrorist Name
Lists;

* Develop methods with the USG to seize accounts and notify
third-country FIUs;

* Amend the money laundering law to add new predicate offenses and
to address customer due diligence requirements for non-financial
business sectors

5. (SBU) Yuthabool enthusiastically proposed new USG assistance in
order to meet these goals and to build Thailand's overall anti-money
laundering regime enforcement and competence. AMLO is particularly
interested in assistance and training to learn how to assess and
regulate AML risks for non financial businesses and internet banking
sectors, how to implement recent amendment to the Exchange Control
Act, how to investigate, prosecute and forfeit assets related to new

BANGKOK 00006234 002 OF 002


predicate offenses, and how to improve international cooperation
with respect to terrorist financing and managing restrained assets
at the request of another country. S/G Yuthabool proposed training
programs in Thailand by U.S. experts, selective visits by RTG
officials to the U.S. and other capacity-building activities to be
development with consultation of USDOJ and the Embassy.

6. (SBU) Working through the newly assigned NAS Resident Legal
Advisor and NAS Director, Post will develop plans for delivery of
USG assistance that may be feasible. Post appreciates the continued
close cooperation and guidance of DOJ's Criminal Division/Asset
Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section regarding these important
issues, and looks forward to providing further support to USG
anti-money laundering efforts in Thailand.

7. This report has been cleared by USDOJ/Linda Samuel.

Boyce

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