Pol Maj Gen Preecha Charoensahayanon, the acting secretary-general of anti-money laundering office (Amlo) acknowledged that cryptocurrencies are a new kind of test that authorities have to meet. He was speaking about the office’s vision for the future as it celebrates its twentieth anniversary on August 20.
A Cryptocurrency Is a Money-laundering Tool
Preecha clarified his stance on digital currencies, saying, “It [cryptocurrency] will be a tool of new money laundering.” He believes that criminals will have a higher tendency to convert their funds into cryptocurrency, making it tough for the authorities to find the original owner of the money.
Therefore, the office is pushing to amend laws that prepare them for “new online missions.” His amendments are geared towards the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act, which will make it mandatory for the crypto exchange to share information with the Amlo office. Officers will then be able to maintain information on all currencies. This information, according to Preecha, will be crucial in tracing the whereabouts of laundered funds.
History of Crypto Frauds in Thailand
Amlo officers usually don’t deal with digital currencies related cases. Therefore, the agency wants to prepare itself to find new hideouts of criminals online.
Recently, a high-profile case of crypto fraud related to actor Jiratpisit (also known as “Boom”) whose elder brother fooled a Finnish investor Aarni Otava Saarimaa. The Finnish native reportedly bought shares of 3 companies with 797 million baht. The payments were made in Bitcoin, and the suspect withdrew the funds secretly later. The case was under the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), and Amlo had no role in investigations. However, Preecha said that agency has to stay ready to tackle such problems.
This year, Amlo froze or seized assets worth 934 million baht and avoiding lawsuits from suspects is the top priority of the agency. He said that the office would not reveal details of some important cases to avoid entering into legal conflicts with the suspects.