Thai AML Chief Pushes For Crackdown on Cryptocurrency

Thai AML Office Chief vs Cryptocurrecy

Preecha Charoensahayanon, the secretary-general of Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), has urged legislators to amend the current version of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, with an aim to oblige providers of cryptocurrency exchange services to report their activities to AMLO, Bangkok Post reports. The proposed change will likely result in bringing cryptos under the AML legislative umbrella.

According to Charoensahayanon, the proposed change is in line with international standards in the area of anti-money laundering. The service providers will be asked to report suspicious activities and behavior of their users. Upon notification of AMLO from the exchange, officers can react and inspect these claims and reports.

At this moment, AMLO is not receiving any updates or reports from service providers. According to the Bangkok Post, the AMLO seized or froze illegal assets estimated to be worth more than US$30 million.

“We may not find any clue, but that doesn’t mean the wrongdoing does not occur,” said Charoensahayanon, who had previously served as deputy secretary-general for almost two years.

Beside the conventional role that his office assumes – enforcement of the anti-money laundering legislation as well as prevention, detection, and reporting of money-laundering activities – the office will also now focus on “probing new hideouts in the cyber world.”

The new focus on the emerging cryptocurrency world is natural, according to Charoensahayanon, as he believes that the trend of criminals moving their illegal assets from physical to digital has become a trend. Furthermore, it’s more difficult for authorities to monitor and track illegal activities involving digital assets.

“That’s why we’re amending laws to prepare us for new online missions,” he added.

In November last year, Thailand was hit by a major crypto scandal when police arrested popular actor Jiratpisit Jaravijitt and his brother for their alleged role in a list of crimes including fraud, collusion, and a money laundering scheme. It was reported that the AMLO seized digital assets worth more than $6.4 million, belonging to the Jaravijit family, for their role in the bitcoin fraud scandal.

The Jaravijitt family allegedly defrauded the Finish investor into investing millions in shares of three companies, just so they can withdraw bitcoins for their personal use. It is estimated that around US$24 million worth of bitcoins were reported lost by the Finish investor at the time.

More than a year after the Royal Decree on the Digital Asset Businesses came into effect in Thailand, there are currently five regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in this country. So far, Bitcoin Exchange Co., Bitkub Online Co., Satang Corporation, Coins TH Co., and Huobi Co. have received a business license from the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

 

Under the current Law, the SEC is mandated to regulate digital token offerings and digital asset businesses, as well as to issue relevant rules, conditions and procedures. Under the current mandate, the SEC has scheduled a “public hearing on amendments to propose new types of digital asset businesses, conditions and processes for requesting the licenses, and the license fees”. The public hearing is expected to take place on August 20.

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