Amlo vows probe into ICIJ's claims

Amlo vows probe into ICIJ's claims

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is looking into allegations made by a panel of investigative journalist that four Thai commercial banks engaged in suspicious activities involving illicit funds.

Amlo acting secretary-general Pol Maj Gen Preecha Jaroensahayanon said the decision was taken following a review of the report released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Sunday.

The report, which highlighted the roles of banks across the globe in moving illegally gained funds over the past two decades, was based on 2,100 suspicious activities reports (SARs) between 1997-2017 filed by banks and other financial institutions with the United States Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

According to the files, FinCEN noted 92 suspicious transactions linked to three privately owned banks and one state-owned bank in Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Preecha said Amlo, along with relevant financial intelligence units and the Bank of Thailand, is looking into the matter.

"We are discussing how we are going to proceed because have to establish the facts first," he said. "We need to tread carefully to avoid causing panic."

He stressed that Amlo has also been monitoring financial transactions.

Export-Import Bank of Thailand (EXIM), one of the four Thai banks implicated in the report, issued an official statement denying it engaged in illegal transfers of funds.

"EXIM Bank has always ... complied with every rule and regulation on anti-money laundering. We have not found any irregular transactions," the statement said.

According to the report, the three private banks and one state-owned bank illegally received US$9.55 million (299.5 million baht) and sent $31.75 million between 2013-2016.

The report said many commercial banks worldwide continue to allow illegal transactions to be carried out, despite repeated warnings about the funds' origins and/or purpose.

FinCEN's files showed about two trillion baht were suspiciously moved between 2009-2017.

The transfers were cleared by staff member of banks and/or other financial institutions, the report said.

The report also detailed evidence that major international banks -- including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon -- have moved money for suspected criminals.

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