Myanmar Placed on Money Laundering Blacklist

Published: 24 October 2022

British Pound RawpixelAccording to FATF, Myanmar has not taken sufficient action against money laundering and terrorism financing action. (Photo: Rawpixel, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Myanmar on its blacklist for money laundering and terrorism financing alongside North Korea and Iran – the organization announced on Friday.

Myanmar has failed to fulfill the action plan to address the strategic deficiencies it committed to in 2020 and “as a result of this poor progress, FATF has moved Myanmar to the blacklist,” said FATF’s President T Raja Kumar during a press conference.

“FATF calls on members to apply enhanced due diligence to both business relations and transactions with Myanmar,” he added.

Nikkei Asia, a financial newspaper, cited its sources amongst FATF’s officials suggesting that the decision was motivated by concerns over Myanmar’s unregulated casino industry and cross-border smuggling.

These have become particularly prominent since the military took power in a coup in February last year, benefiting from the consequent institutional decay.

Casinos in Myanmar — allegedly run by Chinese nationals in collaboration with local militias capitalizing on China’s gambling demand fuelled by a domestic ban — were reported to be involved in crypto fraud and human trafficking.

The country has also featured as a prominent wildlife and timber trafficking hub.

Kumar suggested that Myanmar needed to improve supervision of its financial institutions and implement targeted financial sanctions for terrorism and proliferation financing.

“Myanmar knows what it needs to do, the action plan is clear. Now it is for them to proceed and fully implement the remaining items,” he said.

FATF also announced that the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania were placed on the so-called ‘gray list’ — including countries subject to increased monitoring — for their strategic deficiencies in dealing with money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Nicaragua have been removed from the list.

“Pakistan has made significant improvements in strengthening its framework for combating terrorism financing,” explained Kumar.

The gray list now includes 23 jurisdictions such as Mozambique, Yemen, Syria, Cayman Islands, Panama and Gibraltar.