Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Thai banking regulators probe suspicious transactions after global leaks 

Sep 24. 2020
Jaturong Jantarangs, BOT assistant governor
Jaturong Jantarangs, BOT assistant governor
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By The Nation

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) said it was working with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to prevent money laundering by criminals and terrorists, after four Thai banks were named in global suspicious transaction reports leaked to the media.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published more than 2,000 leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) that banks and financial institutions filed with the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen). They covered about US$2 trillion (Bt62.9 trillion) in potentially corrupt transactions. 

Among them were suspicious transactions worth $41 million via Kasikornbank, Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand between 2000 to 2017.

Jaturong Jantarangs, BOT assistant governor, said that when financial institutions find suspicious transactions, they must report them to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) for investigation.

However, not all suspicious transactions break laws, he added.

Information about the four Thai banks’ involvement in suspicious transactions came from the ICIJ, not from FinCEN, so regulators will have to investigate it first, he said.

Meanwhile Krungthai Bank president Payong Srivanich said his bank had not yet been contacted by regulators about the issue.

“We are ready to cooperate with global government agencies on investigations of the suspicious transactions, and we have long been cooperating with the central bank and AMLO,” he added.

Banking shares have fallen recently due mainly to the slow economic recovery and Covid-19 fallout. Yesterday, Kasikornbank shares fell 2.94 per cent, Bangkok Bank’s fell 1.79 per cent, Siam Commercial Bank’s dropped 0.39 per cent, Krungthai Bank’s fell 1.10 per cent and Krungsri Bank’s dropped 0.51 per cent.

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