Vietnam commits to fighting money laundering hinh anh 1A luxury villa project in coastal central Vietnam. Buying property under assumed names is a popular method of money laundering. (Photo: VNA)

Da Nang (VNS/VNA)
- The 2015 penal code includes revised articles and supplements to fight money laundering, said Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh said at a workshop in the central city of Da Nang on July 9.

He said that some of the regulations are unclear, and guidance is needed to ensure the laws against money laundering are effectively carried out.

"Money laundering criminals often disguise illegal sources of money from their offensive activities with sophisticated means. So, we need a law enforcement force with legal knowledge support and the comprehensive legal system to fight the crime effectively," said Binh.

"Many efforts have been made by Vietnam’s judicial system in dealing with the crimes for years, and it’s still a challenge as Vietnam has integrated more deeply into the global economy," he said.

Binh said money laundering is not a traditional crime in Vietnam, but criminals had used cash to buy property, cars, jewels and precious assets under the names of other people in the country.

He said the workshop was an opportunity for experts, lawmakers and organisations from Vietnam, Australia and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to share experience and ideas on the resolution of the judges’ council of the Supreme People’s Court before issuing the penal code on money laundering.

Jean Cuthill from the anti-money laundering assistance team under the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs suggested that Vietnam needed to provide assessors on the wide range of data and statistics on many examples of money laundering investigations, prosecutions and convictions across a range of different types of crimes, particularly those that are highly profitable.

She said that Vietnam and Australia were members of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), and Australia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) with 37 members.

Cuthill said Vietnam had a mutual evaluation of FATF in 2008 and the next evaluation will arrive in 2019.

"Vietnam should also demonstrate technical compliance with the FATF standards and assessment of effective anti-money laundering regimes. FATF has 40 recommendations on the prevention of anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," she said, adding that more than 190 countries and territories committed to implement 40 recommendations approved by the FATF.

Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Tri Tue said Vietnamese money laundering was first addressed in the penal code in 1999, and the FATF had removed Vietnam from the list of countries with weak measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in 2014.

He said Vietnam highly appreciated the suggestion from experts on predicate offenses, and the country prosecuted three former officials of Vinashin Ocean Shipping Company (Vinashinlines) on charges of embezzlement in 2016 as well as an online gambling case last year.

According to the investigation agencies, the police had initiated probes against 83 people who were allegedly involved in the online gambling ring. Among them, 41 were accused of organising gambling, 38 of gambling, four for illegally trading invoices, two for money laundering and one using the internet to appropriate assets. 

The probe initially found that the money was paid via legal and gateway payments exceeding 9.58 trillion VND (425.7 million USD). More than 9.29 trillion VND, or 97 percent of the total, was transferred via pre-paid telecom cards and game cards. About 168 billion VND was sent from bank accounts.

From 2011-15, Vietnam’s criminal police force investigated 1,378 corruption and economic offense cases involving more than 3,400 offenders, reclaiming 197 million USD for the state budget, according to a report by the People’s Supreme Court.-VNS/VNA