The government is taking a tough stance on financial transparency as well as crime prevention, especially in the area of money laundering, to help encourage foreign direct investment in Laos.
As part of government's efforts to bring the country's financial standards in line with international systems, the Bank of the Lao PDR (BOL)'s Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Unit yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Foreigner Control Department under the Ministry of Public Security.
The MoU was signed by BOL's Acting Head of the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Unit, Ms Phengsy Phengmeuang, and Director General of the Foreigner Control Department, Police Colonel Phouvieng Sonesaveng.
Also present at the signing ceremony were BOL Deputy Governor Ms Vatthana Dalaloy and Deputy General Director of the General Security Department, Police Colonel Dr Bouavanh Vongsavanthong.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ms Phengsy said Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) has become a global issue and every country has a responsibility to take action against these crimes based on their own regulations in association with international standards.
“If we don't strictly follow the guidelines of international bodies, Laos will be in trouble in terms of socio-economic development,” she said.
She also noted that the banking and financial sectors in Laos would be more widely trusted by customers if financial systems were more transparent.
“Because AML/CFT is a global concern, we need more personal information about foreigners living in Laos to help us to prevent cross-border crimes, in accordance with agreements signed with dialogue partners,” Ms Phengsy said.
Without close cooperation between the banking sector and the relevant government sectors, the problem will not go away, she added.
“Today's MoU between the BOL and the Foreigner Control Department will enable us to tighten cooperation so that we can exchange more information in the area of AML/CFT,” Ms Phengsy said.
Police Colonel Phouvieng said the MoU between the two bodies was a milestone in collaboration on the exchange of information concerning AML/CFT.
“We look to the maintenance of public security and enhanced national public security to shore up our development efforts so that we have a stronger country in the future,” he said.
In the long-term, the Foreigner Control Department plans to share information with the BOL about foreigners associated with illegal monetary activities or persons suspected to be associated with AML/CFT.
“Our department is willing to cooperate with the BOL, especially the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Unit, to ensure the work is carried out successfully,” Police Colonel Phouvieng added.
As a member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, Laos is obliged to implement the Financial Action Task Force's 40 recommendations to meet international standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.
In the past few years, BOL's Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Unit has signed MoUs on data exchange with several government bodies including the State Inspection Authority.
In addition, the BOL cooperates with various Asean countries in technical areas, including Myanmar, Cambodia and several other developing countries.
Last year, the BOL signed an MoU with the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit to exchange information on preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which was a significant form of international cooperation to actively address the central bank's AML/CFT deficiencies.