US banks refuse to cash cheques for Thai officials

US banks refuse to cash cheques for Thai officials

Thai embassy officials in Washington are struggling to cash bank cheques and conduct financial transactions as a result of Thailand being named on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watch list, Justice Minister Pracha Promnok says.

Pol Gen Pracha said yesterday that officials from the embassy in Washington had informed the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) that they now had trouble performing transactions in the banks there. They went to the banks to cash cheques only to be refused by the banks, which is not a good signal, Pol Gen Pracha said.

Amlo hopes to have its anti-money laundering bill passed into law by the end of the year, with the change likely to come into effect in February next year.

Amlo would then ask the FATF, the global body which sets standards for anti-money laundering laws and combating the financing of terrorism, to remove Thailand from its watch list.

In a June 22 statement, the FATF said Thailand had not made sufficient progress in fighting money laundering.

The FATF encouraged Thailand to continue work on an action plan and to enact legislation to give it some teeth.

A House panel was fine-tuning the language of the bill, Amlo secretary-general Seehanart Prayoonrat said.

The bill would have to keep to standards set in international law.

Last week, Pol Gen Pracha met executives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which works closely with the FATF in refining procedures for money laundering. He explained obstacles to the government's efforts to strengthen the money-laundering law.

Pol Gen Pracha said he had asked the IMF to report on the progress of the bill to the FATF.

Pol Gen Pracha, who chairs the House committee drafting the bill, said the wording of the bill needed to be adjusted and the committee would ask either the Civil Court or the Criminal Court to define the term "terrorists".

The committee is expected to finish the bill's wording by Wednesday.

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