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NCPO threatens to freeze dubious financial transactions

Strong controls such as the freezing of suspicious financial transactions will be used to suppress corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering if financial institutions and other agencies failed report on dubious accounts, assistant Army chief Lt-General Paiboon Koomchaya, who is in charge of legal and judicial affairs, said yesterday.

Paiboon said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had to examine some suspicious bank accounts after raids at some people's homes turned up 40 empty suitcases that are believed to have been used to transport cash. He was speaking at a meeting with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) yesterday.

In the past, prisoners were given the right to open bank accounts, and at least 400 of these accounts were allegedly linked to drug dealing, he said.

"Banks should not be happy that dirty money can be circulated in the banking system," he said. "The NCPO is not super human, but it has the power to solve problems. We might have to leave the dimension of democracy for some time so we can solve the country's problems. Otherwise these problems will have a huge impact," he said.

AMLO secretary-general Pol Colonel Seehanat Prayoonrat said the agency will ask all financial institutions to check the accounts of clients they suspect of being involved in money-laundering activities, and provide details of these accounts to the office in three months.

The office will release a list of names under its "watch list", classifying high-risk money-laundering groups. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board will also screen and shortlist the groups. They include 1,000 suspected drug traders and 100 gamblers. Others include 324 bank accounts allegedly owned by call-centre gangs, 112 accounts suspected to be involved in tax-evasion activities and 14 suspected of e-fraud activities.

He said AMLO would first ask financial institutions to check and report on suspicious clients, and those who fail to check or report on these accounts would see Bt500,000 deducted from each account in question.

He said the AMLO has discovered that a call-centre gang had set up 30 accounts under one name and is suspected to be carrying out fraudulent activities.


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