Business

Steve Kaaru

Thailand regulator intends to tackle crypto money laundering

The head of the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), Maj Gen Preecha Charoensahayanon, sees cryptocurrency as a great challenge for the regulator. Speaking recently, Preecha said that cryptos have become a new way of laundering money. However, he assured the public that his office was well-equipped to crack down on criminals who were relying on cryptos to conduct illegal transactions.

Preecha believes that criminals will increasingly turn to cryptocurrencies as they are much harder to trace by the authorities. He is keen to ensure that they don’t get to exploit the system in this way, a report by The Bangkok Post revealed.

The Amlo chief believes that some of the regulations in place currently aren’t sufficient to crack down on crypto money launderers. “That’s why we’re amending laws to prepare us for new online missions,” he stated.

The first course of action will be to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Preecha intends on adding a section that will require providers of crypto exchange services to report their activities to his office. This will enable his officers to keep track of transactions involving cryptos.

In doing so, the Thai law will finally be in line with international standards which “regulate these service providers and demands they scrutinize their customers’ behavior and report irregular transactions to authorities.”

Preecha was adamant that even though his office hasn’t received many complaints regarding crypto money laundering, the activity was rife in the country. He stated, “We may not find any clue, but that doesn’t mean the wrongdoing does not occur.”

Preecha also pledged to fight money laundering in the country away from cryptos. His office will have two main missions, one of which will be busting those who seek to hide illegal assets. The other will be probing new hideouts in the cyber world, he stated.

In the first half of this year, Amlo has seized or frozen illegal assets worth up to 934 million baht ($30.3 million).

Thailand has been progressive with cryptos, with the Thai Stock Exchange announcing its intention to apply for a digital assets license earlier this year. This license would allow it to set up an authorized crypto exchange in the country. The Thai parliament also approved the issuance of scripless and tokenized securities in the country in February this year. The country’s securities regulator approved the first ICO portal just a month after, with plans to launch an STO portal next.

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