PhD student blog post: Suspicious Transaction Reports in Thailand

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PhD student Komkrich Silathong shares his research:

The Thailand Anti-Money Laundering Act B.E. 2542 (1999) (AMLA), as amended by Amendment No. 5 under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), took effect on the 9th of October 2015. It imposes a strictly legal responsibility on report entities (REs) such as financial institutions, regulated professionals and Land Offices to report any suspicious transactions (STRs) to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), as this office is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and law enforcement agency (LEA) in Thailand.

Section 22 of the AMLA holds the REs responsible for detecting and preventing money laundering activities. Specifically, it requires the Res to report STRs or any cash transactions two million Baht (£45,454). The ministerial regulations further require Res to report any wire transfers or electric payments worth more than 100,000 Baht (£2,272). In addition, any property transaction in an amount equal to or exceeding five million Baht (£113,636), as well as any wire transfers/electronic payments for any asset worth more than 700,000 million Baht, must be reported to the AMLO.

Failure to report such STR responsibly is punishable by a fine up to 500,000 Baht (£11,363) and an additional amount up to 5,000 Baht (£114) for each following day that the breach was not corrected (Section 62). According to the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, firms may be imposed for not having suffice AML systems and failure to comply with any of the MLRs 2017 determines a punishable offence up to two years of imprisonments and/or a fine or both.

Any person who has or probably has knowledge of an official secret in connection with the execution of the AMLA and who acts in any manner that reveals or probably reveals that knowledge to other persons (tipping-off) shall face up to five years of imprisonment, a fine up to 100,000 Baht (£2,772), or both; the only exception is the case in which the tipping-off was done in the performance of official duties or in accordance with the law.

Under the UK Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002), principle money offences (sections 327-329) are punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Furthermore, failure to disclose (sections 330-332) and prejudicing and investigation offences (section 342) are punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Finally, tipping-off offence (section 333A) is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

According to the AMLA, the term suspicious transaction refers to any single transaction or series of transactions (including attempts to transact) that a relevant person could believe were being perpetrated with the objective of refraining from compliance with the AMLA or to any actions that relate or may relate to the action of a predicate offences of money laundering or terrorism.

In the UK there is no clear definition of the term suspicion. Nonetheless, the term was used in the court’s decision in the case of R v Da Silva [2006] EWCA Crim 1654 and in other courts’ application of this decision such as in the cases of K Ltd v National Westminster Bank Plc [2006] EWCA Civ 1039 and Shah and another HSBC Private Bank (UK) Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 31. The court explained that the term suspicion concerns the degree of confidence, suspicion is not necessarily total belief, but it must be beyond mere speculation. The POCA 2002 aims to prompt the relevant person or the nominate officer to submit an appropriate SAR to the NCA without fear of sanctions; in other words, the POCA 2002 and MLRs 2017 encourage the appropriate SARs not a defensive reporting.


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